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Full text of "The progress of religious ideas, through successive ages. In three volumes"

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S. G. & E. L. ELBERT 



trntXtltfr hit E L L A SMITH ELBERT «88 







Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries 







God sends his teachers unto every age, 

To every clime, and every race of men, 

With revelations fitted to their growth 

And shape of mind, nor gives the realm of Truth 

Into the selfish rule of one sole race : 

Therefore, each form of worship that hath swayed 

The life of man, and given it to grasp 

The master-key of knowledge, Keverenoe, 

Enfolds some germs of goodness and of right. 

J. E. Lowell. 






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by 

C. S. Francis and Company, 

to the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern 
District of New York. 


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Chaldean Schools, 1. Daniel in Persia, 1. Cyrus the Great, 2. Samari- 
tans, 3, 51. Rebuilding the Temple, 4, 50. Ezra's Laws, 6. Priests 
and Levites, 10 to 18. The Sabbath, 18. Festivals, 19 to 26. Fast, 25. 
Prophets, 28 to 42. Angels, 42. Events in Jewish History, 44 to 60 ; 
132 to 137. Sects, 53 to 99, 146. Oral Law, 53. John the Baptist, 79. 
Jesus, 81 to 99. Messiah, 99, 136. Sacred Books, 101 to 146. Tal- 
mud, 138 to 146. Solomon's "Wisdom, 129. Importance of Jewish 
Records as viewed by themselves and by others, 128. Destruction of 
Jerusalem, 133. Modern Jews, 147 to 153. 


Comparison between Hindoos and Hebrews, 155. One God, 157. The 
Second God, 158. Communication between Hebrews and Persians, 158. 
Ideas of God, 159. Names of God, 159. The Trinity, 160. The 
"Word, 160. Intermediate Spirits, in descending series, 161. Transmi- 
gration, 163. Incarnations, 164. The Golden Age, past and future, 
164 Messiahs, 165. Immortality, 166 to 170. Atonement, 170. 
Evil Spirits, 171. Miracles, Oracles, and Prophecies, 172 to 177. In- 
spiration, 175. Animal Magnetism, 176. Public Doctrines and Secret 
Doctrines, 178. Light and Truth, 180. Immodest Symbols, 181. No 
Religion Monotheistic, 181. Theocracies, 182. Martyrdom, 183. 


Days of the Apostles, 185 to 210. Enmity of the Jews, 200. Roman 
Persecution under Nero, 202. Traditions concerning the Apostles, 204. 


Miracles by Vespasian, 210. Philo, 211. Apollonius, 221. Simon 
Magus, 228. Cerinthus, 243. Persecution under Trajan and successive 
emperors, 245 to 218. Martyrdoms, 253 to 265, 274. Early Christian 
Fathers, 2*78 to 311. Opinions and Customs of the Early Fathers, 311 
to 3*71. Church Government and Discipline, 199, 343 to 349. Celibacy, 
352. Sunday, 355. Festivals, 356. Celsus, 362. Judaism, 366. 
Benevolence of Christians, 367. The Earliest Sects, 371 to 418. 
Gnostics, 376 to 418. New Platonists, 418 to 437. 




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" Judea's homeless hearts, that turn 
From all earth's shrines to thee, 
With their lone faith for ages borne 
In sleepless memory." 

The captives in Babylon did not reside in a district by 
themselves, as their ancestors had done in Egypt. They 
were dispersed in all parts of the country, and effectually 
mixed with the inhabitants. Nebuchadnezzar gave orders 
that the handsomest and most intelligent lads belonging to 
the higher classes among them should be placed in the 
schools of the Magi, and instructed in all Chaldean learn- 
ing. At these schools, which were very famous in their 
day, young Hebrews had an opportunity to study divina- 
tion, for the interpretation of dreams; astrology, in con- 
nection with prophecy ; astronomical calculations, in which 
were included the periodical destruction of the world ; and 
chemical knowledge, made use of by priests, to resist 
ordeals by fire or poison. Daniel, and his kinsmen of the 
royal line of Judah, were educated at these schools. By 
Vol. II. a 


his skilful interpretation of a dream, he became a favourite 
with Nebuchadnezzar, who appointed him Chief of all the 
Magi, and the governor of a province, and bestowed upon 
him the name of Baaltasar, from Baal, the tutelary deity 
of Babylon. It seems marvellous that he could have 
been advanced to such high honours, especially to priestly 
dignity, without considerable conformity on his part to the 
established worship of the country. But the Sacred Books 
inform us that he clung to his religion with Hebrew te- 
nacity, and even at the peril of his life turned his face 
toward Jerusalem and prayed publicly, three times a day, 
to the Grod of Israel. 

The old prophecy of Nathan concerning the house of 
David sustained the hopes of pious exiles, who never 
allowed themselves to doubt that Israel would be restored 
to the promised land. When Cyrus the Great, of Persia, 
conquered Babylon, five hundred and thirty-six years be- 
fore Christ, he likewise acquired possession of the land of 
Canaan. Hebrew prophets pointed toward him as a de- 
liverer ; and whether he was informed of that circumstance, 
as some have said, or whether he was merely influenced 
by good policy in having the soil cultivated by colonies 
warmly attached to it, certain it is, he gave the captives 
leave to return to their native land, and offered them many 
inducements. A large proportion, probably including the 
wealthiest, preferred to remain in the Persian empire, 
where they had acquired possessions, and formed connec- 
tions in business. It was a common saying among them- 
selves that only the bran returned to Jerusalem, while the 
fine flour was left in Babylon. For many ages after, the 
number of Jews in Chaldea, Assyria, and Persia, was 
thought greatly to exceed those of Palestine. A large 
multitude never returned. 

Forty-two thousand men, with their families, accepted 
the permission of Cyrus to return to Jerusalem, and re- 
build the temple. They belonged to Judah and Benjamin, 
with perhaps a few scattered individuals from other tribes. 
Judah, to whom pointed all the prophecies concerning a 

JEWS. o 

future deliverer and prince, being by far the most numer- 
ous, gave their name to the whole people, who were 
thenceforth called Jews. A month after their return, as 
soon as they had provided shelter for their families, they 
assembled at Jerusalem, built an altar on Mount Moriah, 
and offered sacrifices to the God of Israel. But their plans 
for rebuilding the temple met with obstructions from an 
unexpected quarter. 

The ten tribes which formed the kingdom of Israel had 
been carried captive into Assyria, two hundred years be- 
fore the time of Cyrus. Salmanassar, their conqueror, not 
wishing to leave the. soil uncultivated, when it might be 
productive of revenue, sent thither colonies of men from 
various nations, probably mixed with some fugitive Israel- 
ites. These new settlers found the country infested with 
lions ; and, according to the prevailing ideas of that period, 
they supposed the tutelary god of the place was angry, 
because the worship to which he had been accustomed was 
neglected. They accordingly sent messengers to the king 
of Assyria, begging to be instructed how the God of the 
Hebrews was worshipped, that they might turn aside his 
wrath, and thus be relieved from the plague of the lions. 
The king sent them some priests from among the Israel- 
itish captives. Thus the ritual of Moses was restored in 
Samaria, but became very much mixed with the worship 
of various foreign gods. When these Samaritans heard 
that Judah had returned from Babylon, with many privi- 
leges granted by Cyrus, they wished to strengthen them- 
selves by friendly alliance with the new comers. Accord- 
ingly, they proposed to unite with them in rebuilding the 
temple, saying: "We worship your God in the same 
manner as ye do." But the elders of Judea scornfully 
replied that they were not descendants of Israel ; that they 
were a mixed race of idolaters, and altogether unworthy 
to assist in rebuilding their temple. This was the begin- 
ning of a deadly enmity between Jews and Samaritans, 
which continued to the end of their history. As soon as 
the foundations of the temple were laid, the Samaritans 


sent ambassadors into Persia to say that the Jews had 
always been a people greatly given to insurrections, and 
thereby troublesome to kings ; that they were building a 
citadel under the name of a temple, and planning to set up 
a government for themselves. By these and similar repre- 
sentations, the active animosity of the Samaritans defeated 
the rebuilding of the temple during nine years ; for which 
the priests and elders of Judea solemnly pronounced a 
public curse upon them. At last, in the reign of Darius, 
king of Persia, permission was obtained to complete the 
work. The Jews had contributed generously in the begin- 
ning, and laid the foundations with great joy; the priests 
blowing trumpets, and Levites singing Psalms of thanks- 
giving. But finding themselves unexpectedly impeded in 
the work, their zeal relaxed ; and when the king of Persia 
allowed them to resume their labours, they neglected to 
do so, until famine came upon them. Then the prophet 
Haggai proclaimed in their ears the old doctrine of tem- 
poral rewards and punishments : " Thus saith the Lord, I 
called for a drought upon the land, and upon the moun- 
tains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and 
upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth 
forth, and upon men and upon cattle, and upon all the 
labour of the hands. Ye have sown much, and lo it came 
to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon 
it. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every 
man to his own house. Go up to the mountain, and bring 
wood, and build the house ; and I will take pleasure in it, 
and I will be glorified, saith the Lord." 

Thus exhorted, the people applied themselves with re- 
newed diligence. The workmen were obliged to go con- 
stantly armed, by reason of attacks from the Samaritans 
and other nations round them ; but in seven years they 
completed a new temple where the old one had stood. It 
was of the same size and form, but much inferior in splen- 
dour, and the remembrance of more glorious days made 
aged men weep as they looked upon it. Cyrus had given 
orders that the sacred vessels carried away by Nebuchad- 

JEWS. 5 

nezzar should be restored. But it is supposed the Ark of 
the Covenant, the altar of incense, the golden table for 
show-bread, and the golden candlestick, were destroyed. 
They were never brought back from Babylon, and new 
ones, of similar pattern, were made for the second temple. 
The Shechinah did not again appear over the Mercy Seat, 
in a visible cloud, from which oracles were given. The 
Urim and Thummim were gone. The sacred fire had been 
extinguished when the old temple was demolished, and no 
flame descended from heaven to kindle sacrifices on the 
new altars of Judea. The holy oil, prepared and preserved 
by Moses, was wanting now; and the High Priest could 
not be consecrated by anointing, according to immemorial 
custom. However, they observed ancient rites with as 
much exactness as possible, and the people were satisfied. 
"The priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children 
of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of Grod 
with joy. They offered a hundred bullocks, two hundred 
rams, four hundred lambs ; and for a sin-offering for all 
Israel, twelve he-goats, according to the number of the 
tribes of Israel. And they set the priests in their divisions, 
and the Levites in their courses, as it is written in the book 
of Moses." 

Henceforth, we hear no more of image-worship in Jewish 
history. Their aversion to that kind of idolatry remained 
strong and permanent. During their long years of exile, 
prophets constantly reminded them that they had been 
carried into captivity as a punishment for idolatry ; that 
because they had avariciously neglected to give rest to 
their land, by observing the Sabbatical Year, as the Lord 
had commanded Moses, therefore their once fruitful fields 
and vineyards were resting in desolation ; that the words 
of the old prophets would not fail ; that a royal branch 
certainly would spring from the root of David, and restore 
prosperity to Israel, if they would turn to the Lord their 
Grod, and worship him only. And when a remnant were 
brought back to their holy land, as some of the prophets 
had predicted, they were again and again reminded that 
Vol. II.— 1* 


the God of Israel was a very jealous god, and would not 
suffer his glory to be given to another. Moses had ex- 
pressly ordained that all the people should be instructed 
in religious matters; but in the course of their many 
changes, this had often, and for long periods, been entirely 
neglected. After their restoration' to the Promised Land, 
a regular and permanent system of public instruction was, 
for the first^ime, established ; and strict injunctions against 
idolatry were repeated with redoubled diligence. 

The restoration of the old ritual of worship devolved on 
Ezra, a priest, whose education and habits rendered him 
very likely to impress on the people a character of austere 
devotion, and rigid observance of ceremonials. He was a 
direct descendant from the High Priest who was slain by 
Nebuchadnezzar. He had probably been much occupied 
with sacerdotal studies during his residence in Babylon, 
for he is praised as " a ready scribe in the Law of Moses," 
The Jews held him in high estimation, and were wont to 
call him the second founder of their Law. It was a com- 
mon saying among them, that "if the Law had not been 
given by Moses, Ezra was worthy it should have been de- 
clared by him." He talked with the aged people, who 
returned from captivity, and gathered all they remembered 
to have seen or heard concerning ancient usages. He col- 
lected the old writings of the nation, which he probably 
found in a dislocated and fragmentary state. To these he 
added what was necessary to connect and complete them, 
and caused copies to be made, one of which was kept in 
the temple, as an authentic record, by which others might 
be corrected. He was assisted in these labours by a council 
of one hundred and twenty learned elders, called the Great 
Synagogue. A series of these ecclesiastical councils con- 
tinued, under the same name, down to the time of Alex- 
ander the Great. When the revised copy of the Law was 
ready for public use, Ezra called all the people together, 
and read it to them, from a high pulpit, while all stood up 
and listened; "men and women, and all that could hear 
with understanding." It was the more necessary that the 

JEWS. 7 

Law of Moses should be well understood, because, like the 
Hindoo Code of Menu } it comprised both the religious and 
civil code of the country, and thus regulated all questions 
of trade or inheritance, as well as matters of worship. 

Prayers three times a day, morning, noon, and evening, 
were prescribed in Hindoo Vedas, and scrupulously re- 
peated in all Braminical colleges and Buddhist Lamaseries. 
It was believed that laws which kept the hierarchy of 
beings in order, and planets in their places, would be dis- 
turbed, if these ceremonials were neglected. The Hebrew 
king David said: "Morning, noon, and evening, will I 
pray." Three times every day prayers were offered in the 
temple. It was a general and devout feeling among the 
Jews that the universe would fall into disorder, if they 
stopped praying to Jehovah. After Ezra's time, places 
of worship called synagogues, were erected. Prayers were 
read there three times a day, and people assembled three 
times a week, the Sabbath included, to hear the Law of 
Moses read and expounded by learned teachers called 
Kabbis. It was not allowable to use the synagogues for 
any secular purposes, but the word Jehovah was never 
uttered there, that being reserved for the temple only. 

Jewish rabbis greatly eulogize the zeal of Ezra in re- 
storing the Mosaic ritual, even in the minutest particulars. 
They inform us that after the return from captivity, he 
burned a red heifer, with all the ceremonies ordained by 
God, that the people might have holy ashes to purify 
themselves whenever they had touched the dead, or passed 
over a grave. If the heifer had one single hair white or 
black, she was deemed unfit for this purpose. 

The idea of atonement by blood, common in all ancient 
religions, remained prominent in the Jewish system, as re- 
newed by Ezra. If a man was killed, and the murderer 
could be found, his blood must be shed as a compensation 
for the crime. But if the murderer could not be found, a 
heifer was beheaded; because it was supposed the sin 
•would be imputed to the whole nation, and God would 
punish them for it, unless his wrath was pacified by blood., 


The laws of Moses permitted and regulated polygamy, 
merely providing for the interests of children, by ordaining 
that a man should not set the son of a beloved wife above 
a first-born son by a wife that was hated. A previous 
contract was made with parents, and legal ceremonies per- 
formed. Poor women, who had no dowry, were taken as 
concubines, or inferior wives. Their children received such 
gifts as the father chose to bestow, but the children of his 
superior wives succeeded to the inheritance. Taking a 
concubine implied nothing disreputable to either party. 
Wives themselves often promoted such connections, when 
they had no children. Jacob married two sisters, and they 
gave him two of their servants for concubines. Abraham 
took Hagar at the request of his wife, though she afterward 
made the poor foreigner a victim of her jealousy. Gideon 
had many wives, and seventy sons. Samuel's father had 
two equal wives. Only one wife and one concubine is 
mentioned as belonging to Saul, the first king. But David 
had at least eight wives. Solomon had seven hundred 
wives and three hundred concubines. Kehoboam had 
eighteen wives and sixty concubines. Rabbinical ex- 
pounders of the Law limited the number of wives to four, 
by way of counsel. The general tendency was not to have 
more than one. The condition of Hebrew women, both 
married and unmarried, was, at all periods of their historj^ 
very honourable and free, compared with other nations 
where polygamy prevailed. Something of this might per- 
haps be owing to impressions Moses had received in Egypt. 
Eor the Egyptians married but one wife, and their customs 
awarded a singular degree of respect and freedom to 
women. The entire absence of voluptuous rites or customs 
in Hebrew worship was likewise favourable to the same 
result. In many countries, votaries gave women as dona- 
tions to the temples, in the same spirit that they offered 
doves, or sheep, or golden vases; and the money obtained 
by a sale of their persons was put into the sacred treas- 
ury. But all such customs were excluded from Egyptian 
temples, and they were also an abomination unto the 

JEWS. 9 

Hebrews. It was expressly ordained by Moses : " There 
shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel. Thou shalt 
not bring the hire of a whore into the house of the Lord 
thy God, for any vow." When the daughters of Zelophe- 
had complained to Moses that their father's estate had 
passed away from his descendants, because he had died in 
the wilderness without sons, he immediately made a law : 
" If a man die and have no sons, then he shall cause his 
inheritance to pass unto his daughter." Women never be- 
longed to the priesthood, but they are often mentioned as 
prophets. Deborah was both a prophetess and a judge 
in Israel. Hulda the prophetess dwelt at the college in 
Jerusalem, and Anna the prophetess lived in the temple. 
Men and women always worshipped apart. Women had 
seats by themselves in the Synagogues, and an outer 
court provided for them at the temple. 

Moses forbade the descendants of Israel to marry any 
woman out of their own tribes. The general violation of 
this law was a source of great grief to Ezra. He said sor- 
rowfully : " The people, the priests, and the Levites have 
not separated themselves from the people of the lands. 
For they have taken of their daughters for themselves and 
for their sons ; so that the holy seed have mingled them- 
selves with the people of those lands. Yea, the hand of 
princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. And 
for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been 
delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the 
sword and captivity." Ezra rent his garments and plucked, 
the hair from his head and beard, and fell on his knees, 
and spread out his hands in prayer to God. And the peo- 
ple came to him and wept very sore, and offered to put 
away all their wives of foreign extraction, and all the 
children that had been born of them. He ratified a cove- 
nant with them to that effect. The foreign women were 
sent away with their children, and sacrifices were offered 
.to the Lord for the trespass that had been committed. 

Strangers were allowed to live within the gates of Jewish 
cities, without conforming to Mosaic ceremonies, provided 



they renounced idolatry, and observed what were called 
the seven precepts of Noah, viz. : "To worship one God ; 
not blaspheme holy things; not murder; not steal; not 
commit adultery ; to deal justly ; and not to eat flesh with 
the blood in it ;" by which they meant flesh cut from any 
living creature. Jews believed the observance of these 
moral precepts was all God required, except of their own 
nation. Therefore they allowed such to live among them, 
under the name of Sojourning Proselytes, or Proselytes 
of the Grate. Being uhcircumcised, they were deemed 
unclean, and therefore not permitted to enter the temple, 
or to dwell in Jerusalem. 

There was another class of foreigners, called Proselytes 
of Righteousness, who were thorough converts to the Jew- 
ish system, and regularly adopted among them by the 
initiatory rites of circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice. The 
proselyte was not deemed sufficiently purified, if any of 
his hair, or even the tip of his finger, remained unwashed. 
When he came out of the water, he recited a prayer that 
he might be clean from Gentile pollution, and become a 
sound member of the Jewish church. Children were like- 
wise admitted by immersion in water, generally at the 
same time with their parents ; but they had liberty to re- 
tract, if they chose, when they were old enough to judge 
for themselves. This class of proselytes were bound by 
the same obligations as Jews, and shared all their privi- 
leges, except that some of them were forever excluded 
from intermarrying with Israelites, and those of other 
nations were not permitted to intermarry for several gen- 

When the promised land was divided among the chil- 
dren of Israel, descendants of Levi had no portion assigned 
them. They were set apart for religious services, and 
were scattered through all portions of the country to pre- 
vent each tribe from setting up an independent priesthood 
for itself. None of them were priests, except the families 
descended from Aaron. Descendants of all the other 
families of the tribe were called Levitcs, whose business it 

JEWS. 11 

was to attend upon the priests. They had forty-eight 
cities assigned them in different sections of the country, 
with the suburbs thereof for tillage, but they paid to the 
priests a portion of the increase of the fields adjoining 
those cities. The people supported them by tithes of their 
harvests and their flocks. Common Levites were often 
objects of charity. Moses said: "Take heed to thyself 
that thou forsake not the Levite, as long as thou livest 
upon the earth ; for he hath no inheritance with thee. The 
Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, which 
are within thy gates, shall come and eat and be satisfied." 
Levites carried the Tabernacle and the Ark whenever they 
were removed, guarded the temple, took charge of ecclesi- 
astical funds, and performed the sacred music. Persons 
not of the tribe of Levi, if they were remarkably skilful, 
were permitted to join the instrumental bands, but only 
Levites were allowed to unite their voices in religious 
service. In David's time, there were thirty-eight thousand 
of them. They came in and went out of the temple by 
set numbers, in twenty-four courses; thus each course 
served but one week in twenty-four, except on great festi- 
vals. When exempted from temple-service they were 
employed as lawyers and judges to decide controversies, 
as scribes, or writers, to copy the Sacred Books, and keep 
exact genealogies of the tribes, and as teachers to instruct 
the people in moral, ceremonial, and judicial portions of 
the Law. They were required to read the whole Law 
once in seven years to the people. Sometimes they were 
counsellors of state, and generals of armies. Schools of 
the prophets were generally established on hills or moun- 
tains ; for there was such a fixed habit of worshipping on 
high places, that it was deemed judicious to have holy 
men stationed at such localities, to instruct the people, and 
bless their sacrifices. These seminaries were under the 
government of Levites. Some prophet, venerable for age 
or piety, presided. The pupils, who w r ere called sons of 
the prophets, sat at his feet, listened to his instructions, 
and wrote down his prophecies. They were generally 


young Levites, of superior excellence and intelligence ; but 
members of other tribes were sometimes admitted. If a 
Levite presumed to perform any of the functions appro- 
priated to priests only, he was put to death. They were 
not allowed to enter the sanctuary, or touch the Ark, or 
handle any of the holy vessels. When such articles were 
removed, they were closely veiled by priests, and placed 
on poles ; and Levites touched the poles only. 

Priesthood conferred high rank, and was practically an 
order of nobility. During the reign of David, there are 
supposed to have been about six thousand priests. Four 
thousand two hundred and eighty-nine persons descended 
from Aaron were among those who returned from cap- 
tivity. The slightest personal deformity excluded a man 
from the sacred office. Not only the blind and the lame 
were forbidden to minister at the altars, but even those 
who had one eye or ear larger than another, or the nose 
too much flattened, or the eyebrows meeting on the fore- 
head. Any transient disease or blemish unfitted a man 
for the performance of sacerdotal duties, until it was cured. 
They wore mitres or bonnets made something in the fash- 
ion of a Turkish turban ; white linen drawers, and a short 
linen robe, usually fastened by a girdle of divers colours ; 
but on the holy Day of Expiation, the girdle also was of 
pure white linen. If there was the slightest impurity on 
the garments, even if an insect happened to get crushed in 
the folds, the priest was considered unclean, and his min- 
istration was of no effect. If any one ventured to assist 
in divine service, knowing that he had in any respect 
neglected the purification required by law, the young 
priests thrust him out and killed him with billets of wood. 
They always bathed, and left their shoes behind them, 
when they entered the sanctuary ; and they always retired 
from the apartment backward, that the face might never 
be turned away from the place where the Ark stood. 
Their clothes were never washed or mended, lest some 
pollution should be accidentally acquired in the process. 
When they became unfit to wear, they were ravelled to 

JEWS. 13 

make wicks for lamps in the temple. When a descendant 
of Aaron was consecrated, in order to enter upon the 
duties of his office, he sacrificed a ram, and priests put 
some of the blood, upon the tip of his right ear, his right 
thumb, and great toe, upon his garments and upon the 
altar. During the time of their ministry, they were for- 
bidden to taste of wine, or any intoxicating drink. Their 
courses at the altar were fixed by lot. Some were to blow 
on the silver trumpets, some to wave incense, some to feed 
the sacred fire, others to carry out the ashes. This was 
done, because, as their numbers increased, they overthrew 
each other, and created confusion by scrambling for the 
same employment. Every morning trumpets sounded 
from the temple, to give the Levites notice to come to 
their appointed tasks. It was deemed sacrilege for any 
but priests to blow on those instruments, or to burn incense 
before the Lord. When king Uzziah presumed, in the 
pride of his heart, to offer incense with his own hands, we 
are told that he was instantly struck with leprosy, and 
remained a leper to the day of his death. The people 
appropriated all the first-born of their flocks and herds, 
and a tenth of all their produce, to religious purposes. 
The oblations of wheat, bread, fruit, wine, and oil, were 
waved before the Lord, or a portion poured out as liba- 
tions, and then divided among the priesthood. Of the 
animals sacrificed, a small portion was consumed, and 
priests and their attendants feasted on the remainder. 
Any money found when the streets of Jerusalem were 
swept belonged to the priests. They derived considerable 
revenue from the practice of paying five shekels for every 
first-born son ; a law instituted by Moses, in lieu of human 
sacrifice. Yoluntary vows were another source of profit. 
When people were in great distress, or when they had 
received any unexpected blessing, they often made a vow 
to dedicate a piece of land, or a house, or money, or jew- 
els, or a certain number of animals, to sacred uses. The 
priests had likewise thirteen cities near Jerusalem allotted 
Vol. II.— 2 


to them. The criminal law was the same for priests and 

The first-born of the oldest branch of the family de- 
scended from Aaron, was High Priest by lineal succession, 
provided he was free from physical blemishes. Hence it 
sometimes happened that the Pontiff was not religiously 
inclined above other men, or otherwise remarkably quali- 
fied for his office. If the candidate was healthy, and per- 
fectly formed, but poor, his priestly brethren must make 
him the richest among them by donations. He was con- 
secrated by being invested with the sacred garments, and 
having his forehead anointed with holy oil, in the form of 
a letter, or a cross. All priests were forbidden to marry 
a prostitute, or a divorced woman ; but the High Priest 
was not allowed to marry a widow, or even a maiden who 
had been betrothed to another. His wife must be nobly 
born, though not necessarily of his own tribe. If she died, 
he might marry again ; but if he took a second wife while 
the first was living, he must give one of them a bill of 
divorce before the great Day of Expiation ; otherwise he 
was incapable of performing the holy offices, which then 
devolved upon him. He was polluted by the presence 
of a dead body, and must not even enter the house where 
his own father and mother lay dead. He bad a dwelling 
within the precincts of the temple, called the High Priest's 
Parlour. He generally remained there during the day, 
and at night returned to the home of his family, which 
must be within the precincts of Jerusalem. Whenever he 
went abroad, or entered the temple, he was attended by 
other priests. It was deemed unsuitable for him to con- 
verse with the commonalty, or frequent public feasts or 
baths, where he could be too familiarly seen by the peo- 
ple. The holiest portions of divine worship were entrusted 
to him. He was considered the appointed mediator be- 
tween God and man, to make atonement for the sins of 
the whole people. He alone was permitted to enter the 
holy of holies, to utter the name of Jehovah, and to ask 
counsel of God by Urim and Thummim. Nothing impor- 

JEWS. 15 

tant, in peace or war, could be undertaken without his 
sanction. Though the administration of justice was com- 
mitted to particular judges, the last appeal was made to 
him in difficult cases, even in temporal affairs. His office 
continued for life ; for the laws of Moses made no provi- 
sion against a priest who should prove faithless to his 
trust. He was not obliged to testify in courts of justice, 
except in cases relating to the king ; and even to that no 
one could compel him, except the Great Sanhedrim. In 
some respects he was on a level with other people. He 
might be witnessed against, and judged, as well as judge. 
If he committed an offence, which by law deserved whip- 
ping, the Sanhedrim whipped him, and then restored him to 
his dignity. The vestments of the High Priest were ex- 
tremely rich. On his forehead was a golden semicircle, 
with "Holiness to the Lord" inscribed upon it in embossed 
characters. Over a tunic and loose trowsers of fine white 
linen, he wore a blue robe, woven in one piece, the edges 
richly embroidered with pomegranates, and the lower rim, 
which reached to his feet, hung with little bells of gold, 
which tinkled as he moved, and gave the people notice to 
fall to prayers, while he offered incense. Over the robe 
was a splendid garment, called the Ephod, which fell down 
the back, and in front, was fastened at the waist by a rich 
girdle. The Ephod was of blue, scarlet, and purple, inter- 
woven with golden threads. It had two shoulder pieces, 
with large beryl-stones set in gold, on which were engraved 
the names of Jacob's sons, progenitors of the twelve tribes. 
From these, suspended by gold chains, hung a breastplate, 
formed of cloth of gold, in which twelve precious stones 
were set in rows, each stone engraved with the name of 
one of the tribes. In this breastplate were the images, or 
words, or symbols, called the Urim and Thummim. Moses, 
we are told, talked with God face to face, and received 
verbal instructions what the people were to do. But after 
his death, judges and kings were obliged to consult Deity 
through the agency of the High Priest. For this purpose, 
he presented himself in full priestly costume, before the 


veil which, separated the Holy of Holies from the Sanc- 
tuary. With face turned toward the Mercy Seat, he pro- 
posed whatever question he had been desired to ask of the 
Lord, while the king, judge, or general, who thus sought 
guidance, remained at a distance, reverentially waiting for 
the answer. How the oracular response was given, has 
been a subject of great controversy. It was a very ancient 
belief among the Jews, and is still a common opinion, that 
certain of the letters engraved on the priest's breastplate 
protruded and shone with peculiar lustre on such occasions ; 
and he, being endowed with a spirit of prophecy, could 
spell out the answer from these radiant letters. Some 
commentators have maintained that an audible voice was 
heard to reply from the Shechinah, or visible cloud ; be- 
cause it is said, when Moses had gone into the Taber- 
nacle to consult with Grod, "he heard the voice of one 
speaking to him from off the Mercy Seat, between the two 
cherubim." This process was called asking counsel of Grod 
by Urim and Thummim. It was not allowable for any 
private affairs, but only for such as related to the general 
interests of the nation. An ark was made to contain the 
breastplate with Urim and Thummim, and when Israel 
went to battle, it was carried with the army, on the shoul- 
ders of Levites, in the same manner as was the Ark of the 
Covenant. The High Priest either went with it himself 
to ask counsel of Grod, in cases of emergency, or he ap- 
pointed a deputy for that purpose, who was called the 
Anointed for the Wars. On the verge of conflict, he 
blowed a trumpet, and roused the courage of the people 
with the following speech : " Hear, Israel ! This day 
you approach unto battle against your enemies. Let not 
your hearts faint. Do not tremble, neither be ye terrified 
because of them ; for the Lord your God goeth with you 
against your enemies, to save you." 

The power of the priesthood varied very much at differ- 
ent epochs. A priest anointed Solomon king; but the 
sacerdotal influence was subordinate to the royal ; for 
Solomon discharged a priest and afterward restored him. 

JEWS. 17 

'There is no account of a priest that attained much, wealth 
or political influence until after the return from Babylon. 
The evils which result from investing a class of men with 
spiritual power over others were as conspicuous among the 
Jews, as in the priesthood of other nations. As early as 
the times of Eli, when pious people brought animals to be 
sacrificed to the Lord, priests seized the flesh by force, to 
gratify their own luxurious appetites. In the reign of Joash, 
they received, year after year, contributions to repair the 
temple, but totally neglected the work. Jeremiah says of 
his own times: "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the 
priests rule by their means." The Levitical order became 
consolidated after the time of Ezra, and their ambition in- 
creased with their power. John the High Priest slew his 
brother Jesus in the temple, on account of a quarrel be- 
tween them concerning the succession to office. Antiochus 
tried to apologize for his cruel persecution of the Jewish 
religion, by saying he was thoroughly disgusted with the 
avarice and political intriguing of their priests. The 
people, though strongly bound to their religious teachers 
by tradition and the force of habit, occasionally manifested 
diminished reverence. The payment of tithes was some- 
times neglected until officers were sent to enforce it. 
Such a state of things at one time drove all the Levites. 
and singers from the temple, to seek other employments. 
In the days when judges ruled the land, priests were very 
unceremoniously thrust in and out of office. In the tur- 
bulent times preceding the final destruction of Jerusalem, 
different factions chose the High Priest by lot. On one 
occasion, Joseph us says they invested with the ephod and 
golden crown "a man who scarcely knew what the high 
priesthood was, such a mere rustic was he." 

To express adoration Hebrews used a word which sig- 
nified kissing; it being a general custom among ancient 
nations to kiss the hand, in token of reverence, to sun, 
stars, statues, and other sacred objects. Hebrews always 
prayed standing, with hands upon their breasts, in the atti- 
tude of servants before a master. To express deep humili- 
Vol. II.— 2* 


ation, they sometimes prostrated themselves on the ground ; 
but more generally bent the knees, or bowed the head low. 
If any priest prayed sitting, his ministry was vain ; so like- 
wise if the left hand was used instead of the right, in any 
of the ceremonies or sacrifices. When the priest blessed 
the congregation, he did not look upward to heaven, or 
toward the people, but turned his eyes to the ground. 
While he pronounced the benediction, his hands were 
raised to his forehead, the palms spread out, .the thumbs 
and the forefingers joined together. On such occasions, all 
the people covered their faces, afraid to be struck blind if 
they looked up ; because the Divine Majesty was supposed 
at that moment to rest on the hands of the priest. This 
Egyptian posture of praying with uplifted hands was as old 
as the time of Moses. Great importance seems to have 
been attached to the mere attitude, for when he wished to 
secure the blessing of God on a battle which lasted all day, 
Aaron and Hur held up his hands, when he became too 
weary to sustain them himself. 

So far as we have any record of ancient usages, it was 
the custom of all nations to offer prayers and sacrifices to 
certain deities, on days appropriated to each ; and having 
fulfilled that duty, the people went about their customary 
labours or amusements. Phoenicians, Babylonians, Ara- 
bians, and other nations where the Spirits of the Planets 
were worshipped, peculiarly observed the seventh day, be- 
cause the number of the planets was seven, and the Sun, 
in their estimation, was king of the planets. Jews were 
peculiar for consecrating every seventh day so entirely to 
their God, that they refrained from any work, or recrea- 
tion, themselves, their servants, and their cattle, from 
sunset to sunset. It came on the day which we call Satur- 
day, and was named the Sabbath, signifying rest; because 
it was regarded as a memorial of God's resting from his 
labours, after he had completed the work of creation in six 
days. They were not allowed to light a lamp, or kindle 
fire to cook on the Sabbath. Food was prepared, and the 
table laid on Friday. On that day, at three o'clock in the 

JEWS. 19 

afternoon, began what was called the Vesper of the Sab- 
bath, or Day of Preparation. After that time, it was not 
allowable to begin any journey, or undertake any business, 
even in courts of justice, unless it could be completed 
before sunset All foreigners who were with them, all 
the slaves, and the cattle, rested from labour. All the 
people washed their hands and feet, and arrayed them- 
selves in their best garments, as a preparatory purification. 
When the sun was on the point of setting, trumpets 
sounded from the temple, to give notice that it was time 
for candles to be lighted in all their houses. It was neces- 
sary to have them burn all night, it being a desecration of 
the holy time to kindle fire in any way, upon any emer- 
gency. Those who were too poor to buy oil, begged it 
from their neighbours. Morning and afternoon, people 
assembled in the synagogues, to hear the Law of Moses 
read, and prayers recited. In addition to the sacrifice 
offered every day in the temple, two young lambs were 
sacrificed, and twice as much wine and oil presented as 
oblations to the Lord. At sunset, each master of a house 
signified that the Sabbath was ended, by blessing a cup of 
wine and presenting it to every member of the family. 
This was considered the most holy of their religious obser- 
vances, and any wilful profanation of it was punished with 

As every seventh day was a Sabbath, so every seventh 
year was a Sabbatical year, during which they were com- 
manded to let the land rest. It might not be sowed, tilled, 
or manured ; no tree, or vine, might be pruned of dead 
branches ; no smoke made under them to destroy insects. 
Whoever disobeyed these injunctions, was punished by 
scourging. If any grain sprang up from seed scattered the 
preceding year, the owner of the land was not allowed to 
gather it into his garners. He, in common with every 
person that passed, was at liberty to shake it out and eat 
it ; and the same rule was observed with regard to fruit. 
Moses promised, in the name of the Lord, that the harvests 
of the sixth year should always be sufficiently abundant 


to provide for the wants of the seventh . Whether the 
Hebrews found themselves disappointed in that respect, we 
are not told, but at some periods of their history, they 
generally neglected the prescribed regulations, from an un- 
willingness to relinquish so much of their agricultural 
profits. The Sabbatical Year was sometimes called The 
Lord's Eelease, because all who were Israelites, or Prose- 
lytes of Righteousness, were released from obligations to 
creditors. Only foreigners, or Proselytes of the Grate, 
could be compelled to pay their debts. At the close of the 
year, the Law of Moses was publicly read by the ruler of 
the land, in presence of all the people. 

After seven weeks of years, that is, after seven times 
seven years, the fiftieth was a year of Jubilee. Trumpets 
were sounded in all the highways, with proclamation of 
"liberty to all the land and all the inhabitants thereof." 
Those whom poverty had compelled to part with their 
estates, had them restored to them or their heirs, even if 
they had meanwhile been sold a hundred times over. All 
prisoners and Hebrew servants were set free, and feasted 
and rejoiced, with garlands on their heads. 

Jews had a tradition, which they believed originated 
with Elijah, that the world would continue six thousand 
years. They supposed it had existed two thousand years 
before the Law was given to Moses ; that it would remain 
two thousand years under the Law, and two thousand 
under the government of the Messiah. At the end of that 
period, the world would be destroyed by fire, and there 
would be a thousand years of rest, before God renewed all 
things. Some scholars think their custom of observing 
Sabbaths was typical of this ]3rophecy. 

Moses ordained three annual festivals, when all the men 
of Israel were required to come up to the House of the 
Lord with offerings. The most important was the Pass- 
over, so called from a Hebrew word meaning to pass over ; 
because the destroying angel, when he slew the first-born 
of Egypt, passed over the houses of the Israelites. Who- 
ever was able to attend this festival and did not, was con 


JEWS. 21 

demned to forfeit all his goods to the priests, for sacred 
uses. It occurred at a season of the year corresponding 
with our March. Every master of a family went up to 
Jerusalem, and carried a lamb or a kid to the temple. 
Each animal must be examined by priests, and pronounced 
perfectly unblemished. The lamb was then slaughtered in 
the court of the temple. A row of priests stood ready 
with gold and silver vials, into which some of the blood 
was poured and passed up to the altar; empty vials being 
continually passed down. The priest, who stood nearest 
to the altar, sprinkled the blood upon it. The fat of the 
inwards and the kidneys were consumed as a burnt-offering ; 
and while they were burning, bands of Levites sang Psalms. 
Each master of a family caused the body of his lamb to be 
conveyed to the place where he intended to sup, and there 
it was roasted whole. When all were seated at the table, 
' a vessel of red wine and water was prepared. The master 
of the feast pronounced a blessing over it, drank, and passed 
it round to each member of, the company. Then they all 
washed their hands, saying : " Blessed be thou, Lord our 
God, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and 
hast commanded us concerning the washing of our hands." 
Then they ate bitter herbs, reminding each other that they 
did it in remembrance of their bitter bondage in Egypt. 
Psalms were sung by singers provided for the occasion. 
Then the master of the feast took two loaves of unleavened 
bread, brake them in pieces, ate a portion himself, and 
passed the remainder to all present. Before they parted, a 
Psalm was sung, beginning and ending with Hallelujah, 
which means Praise to the Lord. At the Feast of the 
Passover, it was customary to release some prisoner, who 
was under sentence of death. 

The next day began the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It 
continued seven days, during which special sacrifices of 
animals were offered every day, in addition to the cus- 
tomary sacrifices. On the first day, every man was re- 
quired to send a bullock, or other animal, to the temple 
for sacrifice. On the second day, they brought offerings 


of the first fruits of their barley-harvest, which was ripe at 
that season. Each man cast a handful of barley into the 
fire on the altar, and the remainder was left for the priests. 
Until this ceremony had been performed, the people did 
not reap their harvests, or partake of them. 

People from all the tribes of Israel came up to Jerusalem 
in their best attire, to attend this great festival of eight 
days, commencing with the Passover. Every master of a 
house came up to the temple with his Paschal lamb on his 
shoulder, or had it carried before him by servants. In the 
days of Jewish prosperity, a million of human beings often 
assembled there. All the environs of the city were covered 
with tents ; for though the most unbounded hospitality pre- 
vailed, it was impossible to accommodate all the strangers 
in houses. The number of cattle brought from afar was so 
great, that the hills round Jerusalem were covered with 
them, and every blade of grass was devoured. Some pre- 
ferred to buy animals on the spot, and this led to the 
establishment of a great cattle-market in the outer courts 
of the temple, from which priests and Levites obtained 
considerable revenue. There were likewise chests and 
tables for money-changers, who sat there to receive pay for 
things purchased to offer in the temple ; likewise to take 
the redemption money, which every Israelite paid for the 
life of his first-born son. These Levites demanded a fee 
for changing money, which in process of time led to great 

When seven times seven days had passed, after the 
wave-offerings from their barley-harvest, a festival of 
thanksgiving was held for the ripened wheat. It was 
called Pentecost, meaning the fiftieth, because it occurred 
fifty days after barley -harvest. It was instituted in com- 
memoration of the promulgation of the Law on Moun} 
Sinai. All the men of Israel were required to come up to 
the temple with loaves of bread and sheaves of wheat. 
These were waved before the Lord, and reserved for the 
priests. Bullocks, rams, lambs, and kids, adorned with 
flowers and fillets, were brought for burnt-offerings. Priests 

jews. 23 

sprinkled the blood of these animals on the altar, waved 
the fat of the inwards before the Lord, toward the four winds 
of heaven, and then burnt them on the altar, while priests 
blowed on silver trumpets, and Levites sang Psalms. 
Certain portions of the meat were reserved for the priests, 
and the remainder made a feast for those who offered the 
sacrifice. This festival continued seven days, but the first 
was observed with most solemnity. The poor rejoiced at 
this season, for reapers were ordered not to glean the 
fields clean, and not to go back to pick up a sheaf they 
had dropped. 

Six months after the Passover, a great festival was held 
in gratitude for the ripened grapes and olives. On this 
occasion, also, all Israel were required to come up to the 
temple. They came in long procession, bringing abundant 
offerings of fruit, leading a fat ox for sacrifice, with his 
horns gilded., and head crowned with a garland of olive 
leaves. Bands of singers and musicians preceded them. 
As they approached Jerusalem, workmen left their shops, 
and magistrates went forth to meet them, exclaiming: 
" 0, our brethren, ye are welcome I" Every one, even the 
king, carried on his shoulder a basket of offerings up to 
the court of the temple. Turtle-doves, wreathed with 
flowers, were fastened to the baskets, to be offered in sacri- 
fice. The fruits belonged to the courses of priests at that 
time in service. This festival was called the Feast of 
Tabernacles, because all the people dwelt in booths, or tab- 
ernacles, to commemorate the time when they lived in tents 
in the wilderness. The booths were made of green boughs, 
so slightly woven that the rain could descend through 
them, and sun or stars could be plainly seen. Here they 
ate, drank, and slept, during the whole festival ; only in- 
valids, women, and children, were exempted from the 
obligation. Some erected booths in the court-yards of 
their houses, or on the roofs. They tied palm-branches 
together, intertwined with threads of gold or silver, and 
carried them in their hands every day of the feast, whither- 
soever they went. They entered the court of- the temple 


daily, and waved their palm-branches toward the altar, 
shouting : " Hosanna ! O Lord, send us prosperity." Mean- 
while, the trumpets sounded. On the seventh day, called 
the Day of Psalms, they all walked seven times round the 
altar, waving their palm-branches, while trumpets sounded, 
and Levites sang " Hosanna I" Then priests brought a 
golden tankard filled with wine and water, and poured it out 
at the foot of the altar, a libation to the Lord. Again the 
people waved their branches, trumpets sounded, musicians 
played, and Levites joined in a chorus of hosannas. In 
the evening, the court of the temple was brilliantly lighted, 
Levites played on harps and cymbals, while the people, in- 
cluding doctors of the Law, members of the Sanhedrim, 
and other dignified officers, sang, danced, and leaped about, 
with lighted torches in their hands, till the night was far 
spent. When it was ended, the priests bore a testimony 
against Sun- worshippers, by passing out at the east gate of 
the temple, and turning toward the west, to repeat these 
words: "Our fathers, who were in this place, turned their 
faces toward the east, where the sun rises, and turned their 
backs upon the temple of the Lord. But as for us, we turn 
our faces toward God, and worship him." This festival 
continued eight days. The last was called the Feast of 
Ingathering ; when they brought to the temple oblations 
of wine, and oil, and threshed wheat. When these were 
presented, Psalms of thanksgiving were sung in full chorus, 
with trumpets and bands of music. No man was allowed 
to require any work from his servants on that day. Moses 
enjoined that scattered fruit should not be picked up, 
and that bunches of grapes should be left hanging, for the 
benefit of those who had no vineyards of their own. Some 
were doubtless niggardly in their obedience ; but it is 
probable there always existed many kind hearts, who de- 
lighted in this delicate mode of conferring obligation, 
without the embarrassment of receiving thanks. More- 
over, the selfishness of devout believers urged them to the 
same result, for giving to the poor was regarded as one 
form of offering to the Lord ; and Ilcbrew theology always 

jews. 25 

taught that God rewarded his worshippers with external 
prosperity, in proportion to their devotional zeal. During 
the Feast of Tabernacles, prayers were offered for all people 
in the world, and seventy bullocks were sacrificed for the 
seventy nations, which Jews supposed comprised all the 
inhabitants of the earth. They were designated by the 
common term Gentiles, which simply means the nations. 
From the time of Joshua to the captivity in Babylon, the 
people neglected to live in booths during this festival, 
though Moses expressly enjoined it; but after their return 
from exile, Ezra restored the ancient usage. 

Jews, in common with most Asiatic nations, believed 
that the world was created in autumn; therefore they 
dated their year from that time. On the day of the first 
new moon of the year, they held a new year's festival, 
called the Feast of Trumpets, No man was allowed to 
require work from his labourers on that day ; and the pro- 
visions for food were more abundant than usual. It was 
customary to serve up a ram's head, in memory of the 
ram slain instead of Isaac. At sunrise, they offered thanks, 
saying : " Blessed be God who has hitherto preserved us 
in life, and brought us unto this time." Then the priests 
began to blow trumpets, and continued blowing them by 
turns, until sunset. 

Every new moon was observed as a festival. Men were 
stationed on all the heights and watch-towers, to announce 
when the moon began to show itself above the horizon. 
As soon as the high priest heard the tidings, he said: 
"The new moon is hallowed;" and the Sanhedrim, who 
were assembled for the occasion, replied : " It is hallowed." 
Fires were kindled on all the hills, and messengers sent in 
every direction, to remind people that the Feast of the 
New Moon must be celebrated. At such times, in addition 
to the sacrifices daily offered in the temple, they slaugh- 
tered two bulls, seven lambs, and a kid, for sin-offerings. 

Nine days after the Festival of Trumpets, they observed 
a very severe national fast, called the Great Day of Ex- 
piation. During this interval of nine days, they prepared 
Vol. II.— 3 b 


for expiation by applying themselves to works of piety 
and alms-giving with uncommon diligence. The very de- 
vout often rose at midnight, and went to the synagogues 
to pray till morning dawned. Seven days previous to the 
fast, the High Priest was escorted to the temple by the 
Sanhedrim and a band of priests, that he might live there, 
apart from his wife, away from the world, and out of dan- 
ger of contamination by anything unclean. He took a 
substitute with him, to be duly prepared, in case any sud- 
den disease, or accident, should render him unfit for the 
holy office of atonement. Both of them were sprinkled 
with the ashes of the red heifer, lest they had in some 
way contracted pollution unawares. The High Priest 
watched all the night previous. When the day dawned, 
he laid aside the rich dress, which he wore in the sanc- 
tuary on all other occasions, performed prescribed ablu- 
tions, and clothed himself in pure white linen. The people 
assembled at the temple as soon as it was light, and a 
young bullock was brought to him, as a sin-offering for 
the descendants of Aaron. He laid his hands on the head 
of the beast, and said : " O Lord, I have sinned, done per- 
versely, and transgressed before thee, I and my house. O 
Lord, expiate the sins, perversities, and transgressions, 
whereby I have sinned, done perversely, and transgressed, 
I and my house." Then two goats, of equal colour, size, 
and price, were brought to him as a sin-offering for all the 
people. One of them was to be sacrificed to the Lord, the 
other was for a scape-goat. The goat for the Lord was 
chosen by drawing lots from an urn. The bullock and 
the goat were sacrificed, and the blood sprinkled on the 
holy of holies, the altar, and the sanctuary. A long piece 
of scarlet was tied to the other goat. The High Priest 
laid his hands on the head of the animal, and said: "O 
Lord, thy people, the house of Israel, have sinned, done 
perversely, and transgressed before thee. I beseech thee, 
Lord, to expiate the sins, perversities, and transgres- 
sions, which the house of Israel have sinned, done per- 
versely, and transgressed before thec. As it is written in 

jews. 27 

the Law of Moses, thy servant : for on this day he will 
expiate for you, to purge you from all your sins, that you 
may be clean before Jehovah." This was the only occa- 
sion on which the name of Jehovah was ever uttered, and 
then only by the High Priest. As soon as the priests and 
people heard it, they prostrated themselves to the ground, 
saying : " Blessed be the name of his glorious kingdom 
for ever and ever." The goat was carried with all speed 
to a wilderness ten miles from Jerusalem, and being led to 
the top of a precipice, was thrown off, with all the sins of 
the people on his head. The men who performed this 
office were considered "unclean for the remainder of the 
day, and went through ceremonies of purification before 
they approached any sacred place. When the sacrifices 
were finished, the High Priest took coals from the altar, 
placed incense upon them, and went into the holy of holies 
to burn incense before the Lord. This was the only day 
when he entered that apartment, which no other human 
foot was allowed to touch. He went in four times. Once 
to burn incense, once to sprinkle the blood of the bullock, 
once to sprinkle the blood of the goat, and a fourth time, 
to bring out the censer in which incense was burning. If 
he entered it a fifth time, Jewish writers say he died for 
his presumption. By his prayers and sacrifices on this 
important Day of Expiation, the whole nation believed 
God was reconciled to them, and all their sins forgiven. 

There were innumerable other observances and cere- 
monies attending birth, marriage, death, and all the most 
interesting events of life. In addition to prescribed sacri- 
fices and oblations, there were many voluntary ones, to 
avert calamities, or express gratitude for good fortune. In 
the Hebrew language the same word denoted peace and 
prosperity ; therefore offerings of thanksgiving were called 
peace-offerings. When a man was too poor to offer beasts 
or birds, the priests accepted an oblation of flour, in lieu 
of more expensive donations. 

The character and mission of the prophets differed es- 
sentially from that of the priests. The priesthood rarely 


opposed the progress of any prevailing corruption. They 
were chiefly occupied in the mechanical routine, of light- 
ing lamps, tending the sacred fire, replenishing the frank- 
incense, changing the loaves of show-bread, and other 
similar ceremonies. They took care of the mere externals 
of religion, while the spirit and life of it seemed to dwell 
with the prophets, on whom, in degenerate times, devolved 
the task of preaching the ancient purity of the Law. They 
encouraged and threatened with promises of temporal 
rewards and punishments, as Moses had done. Thus Jere- 
miah, rebuking the people for their idolatry and impeni- 
tence, says: "There shall be no grapes on the vine, nor 
figs on the tree, and the leaf shall fade. Behold I will 
send serpents among you, which will not be charmed, and 
they shall bite you, saith the Lord." The power of pro- 
phets over the public mind was sustained by fervid faith 
in divine communication, by mysterious symbols, and by 
the inspiration of poetry and music. Prophecy, and the 
oracle of Urim and Thummim, were in fact the basis on 
which Hebrew theocracy, or God government, always 
rested. The populace did not regard Moses as their ruler. 
They believed Jehovah dwelt in the Holy of Holies, and 
told Moses, his prophet, just what he was to do. After- 
ward, judges, kings, and generals of armies, were supposed 
to be guided by God, through the prophetic voice of the 
High Priest, when he consulted the oracle ; and likewise 
by a succession of inspired messengers called prophets, 
whom God perpetually raised up for the guidance of his 
people Israel. Through all their misfortunes, they con- 
stantly maintained the faith that they, above all other 
nations, were God's peculiar favourites, and that his word 
was constantly imparted to some holy men in their midst. 

The priesthood was hereditary, but no man became a 
prophet by birth. He must have some special call to his 
mission. By what signs this special call was indicated, 
does not seem to have been certainly known ; for false 
prophets were continually mistaken for true ones. Jere- 
miah constantly complains of those who are " prophets of 

jews. 29 

tlie deceit of their own heart ; who prophesy false dreams, 
and cause the people to err by their lightness." " Behold 
I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that rise their 
tongues, and say, He saith ; yet I sent them not, nor com- 
manded them." 

It has been common to reproach the Jews for not having 
believed the true prophets sent to warn and admonish 
them ; but how kings or people could be enabled always 
to distinguish between false and true is not easily ex- 
plained. In Hebrew Sacred Writings it is stated that God 
himself sent a false prophet, on purpose to deceive the 
king to his ruin. " The Lord said to the Spirits that stood 
around his throne, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he 
may go up and fall at Ramoth Gilead ? And one said on 
this manner, and another said on that manner. And there 
came forth a Spirit and stood before the Lord, and said, 
I will persuade him. And the Lord said, Wherewith? 
And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying Spirit 
in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou 
shalt persuade him, and prevail also. Go forth and do so." 

Moses told the children of Israel, if a prophet predicted 
anything and it did not come to pass, that was a sign the 
Lord had not spoken by him, but the prophet had spoken 
it presumptuously. This was the only criterion he gave. 
Of what value would prophecy be in difficult emergencies, 
if there could be no certainty of its truth until after the 
event? Moreover, the criterion itself was a moveable 
one; for Moses cautioned the people that prophets who 
believed in false gods might arise among them, and " give 
them a sign or a wonder, saying, Let us go after other 
gods;" and he adds: "If the sign or the wonder come to 
pass, thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that 
prophet; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know 
whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart 
and all your soul. And that prophet shall be put to 
death." This admits that believers in the gods of the 
Gentiles might prophesy truly. That they were some- 
times conscientious with regard to their prophetic mission, 
Vol. II.— 3* 


is shown by the story of Balaam, a prophet of the Mo 
abites, who could not be induced by offers of money or 
honours to please the king of Moab by speaking contrary 
to his own inspiration. Jewish Eabbins account for it, by 
saying that he prophesied in favour of the Israelites by 
will of their God, but did not understand what he pro- 

The prophets themselves do not appear to have had any 
infallible method of ascertaining the truth of each other's 
inspiration. One of the Hebrew sacred writers describes 
a prophet of Judah sent by God to warn Jeroboam, king 
of Israel, concerning his idolatrous altars. An old pro- 
phet, who dwelt in Israel, hearing of this, followed the 
prophet from Judah, and invited him to go home with 
bim, and eat bread. The traveller replied that he could 
not possibly do so, because God had expressly ordered him 
not to turn back in his way, and not to eat or drink in 
that place. The old men of Israel rejoined: "I also am a 
prophet, as thou art ; and an angel spake unto me by the 
word of the Lord, saying : Bring him back with thee into 
thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But 
he lied unto him." It was customary for young prophets 
to treat the old prophets with reverence ; and perhaps this 
habit caused the messenger from Judah to yield to the old 
man from Israel. He went back with him, and ate bread 
in his house, and drank water. While they sat at table, 
the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had lied to 
the traveller; and he began to reprove his guest, for hav- 
ing complied with the invitation, which he himself had 
given in the name of the Lord. He said: "Because thou 
earnest back, and hast eaten bread and drank water, in the 
place of which the Lord did say to thee, 'Eat no bread 
and drink no water, therefore thy carcass shall not come 
unto the sepulchres of thy fathers." Accordingly, when 
the prophet from Judah departed, a lion met him by the 
way, and slew him. Messengers came and told this to the 
old prophet, who had induced the traveller to disobedience 
by lying to him. And he went and brought the carcass 

JEWS. 31 

back to the city, and laid it in his own grave ; " and they 
mourned over him, and said, Alas, my brother I" And he 
said to his sons : " When I am dead, bury me in the sep- 
ulchre wherein the man of God is buried. Lay my bones 
beside his bones. For the saying which he cried by the 
word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel, and against 
all the houses of the high places in Samaria, shall surely 
come to pass." 

If there was no way to test the truth of predictions, 
except by the event ; if prophets of other gods could pre- 
dict truly, and the God of Israel sometimes permitted them 
to do so, that he might test the faith of his people ; and if 
even a true prophet, like the man from Judah, could be 
deceived by a lying message in the name of the Lord, how 
could kings and people be expected to avoid mistakes? 

The popular idea was that a true prophet could bring 
down fire from heaven, as Moses had done. Hence when 
a man professed to have communication with God, the 
multitude were wont to say : " Show us a sign from 

Jews always assigned to Moses the highest place among 
the prophets; because he alone is represented as "talking 
with God face to face, as a man talketh with his friend." 
"There arose afterward no prophet like unto him, who 
knew God face to face." Prophets who, in a state of 
ecstasy, sleeping or waking, saw visions, or heard a voice 
speaking to them, were estimated as the next highest in 
degree. The prophetical influx came upon such with 
greatest force, when they fasted and were in complete 
solitude. Sometimes they fell into a trance, during which 
the soul was entirely abstracted from external objects. 
Balaam is described as "the man who saw a vision of the 
Almighty, falling into a trance with his eyes open." That 
they were sometimes in a state of religious frenzy, seems 
to be implied by the fact that the same word in Hebrew 
means to prophesy, and to be mad. They were called 
•prophets, from Greek words meaning to foretell; men of 
God ; angels of God, which simply means messengers of 


Grod ; also seers, because they could see past and future. 
The lowest degree of divine influence, called inspiration 
of the Spirit, came to men when they were wide awake, 
and in full possession of their senses. They talked like 
other men, but felt the Divine Spirit resting upon them, 
suggesting words to be uttered concerning religious or 
civil affairs. 

Music seems to have been frequently used to excite the 
prophetic state. In schools of the prophets they composed 
Psalms by its aid, and were sometimes transported above 
themselves by a kind of divine furor. Psalms composed 
in such states of mind were regarded as prophecy. Samuel 
said to Saul : " "When thou shalt come to the hill of God, 
thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from 
the high place, with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, 
and a harp, before them ; and they shall prophesy. And 
the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt 
prophesy with them." When the kings of Israel and 
Judah went together to consult Elisha, the prophet said : 
"Bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass when the 
minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon 

Men who believed themselves called to the prophetic 
vocation were usually distinguished by a peculiar dress. 
They wore cloth of hair next their skin, tied about the 
waist with a leathern girdle. Over the shoulders was 
thrown a lamb-skin, called the Prophetical Mantle. The 
prophets of Baal were wont " to cut themselves with knives 
and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them." It 
would seem that Hebrew prophets had a similar custom ; 
for we are told that " a certain man, of the sons of the 
prophets," wishing to prophesy to king Ahab, "said unto 
his neighbour, By the name of the Lord, smite me, I pray 
thee." When the man refused to do it, the prophet told 
him that a lion would meet him in the way and slay him, 
" because he had not obeyed the voice of the Lord." Ac- 
cordingly, "when he departed, a lion found him and slew 
him." Then the prophet said to another man: "Smite 

jews. 33 

me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that he 
wounded him." The prophet then departed, and waited 
for the king. Zechariah speaks of "rough garments and 
wounds in the hands," as external signs of a prophet, as- 
sumed by those who wished to deceive. 

Some customs of the prophets, called symbolic actions, 
strongly remind one of similar practices among the devo- 
tees of Hindostan. When Saul prophesied before Samuel, 
he lay down naked all day and all night. Apparently this 
was not an unusual proceeding, for it is mentioned without 
censure or surprise. Isaiah, by command of the Lord, 
walked naked and barefoot three years, u for a sign and a 
wonder upon Egypt and Ethiopia," to show that they 
should be led away captive by the king of Assyria, like 
him, "naked and barefoot, with' their buttocks uncovered." 
Zedekiah wore horns of iron on his head, and thrust with 
them, to show that Israelites were to thrust down the 
Syrians. Jeremiah wore a yoke about his neck to show 
that Israel should come under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar. 
God told Ezekiel to lie on his left side three hundred and 
ninety days, with a tile before him, on which was portrayed 
the city of Jerusalem besieged ; and then to lie on his right 
side forty days more, during which he was to drink a small 
measure of water prescribed for each day, and eat a pre- 
scribed quantity of bread, baked with cow-dung for fuel. 
And the prophet did according to the word of the Lord, 
to foreshow what Jerusalem would suffer in time of siege. 
The Lord commanded Hosea to live with a prostitute, that 
he might thereby symbolize the continual fornications 
which the people committed by going after other gods. 
He said: "Go take unto thee a wife of whoredoms, and 
children of whoredoms ; for the land hath committed great 
whoredom, departing from the Lord. Go love a woman 
beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the 
love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to 
other gods." Hosea adds: "So I bought her to me for 
fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an 
half homer of barley. And I said unto her, Thou shalt 


abide for me many days. Thou shalt not play the harlot, 
and thou shalt not be for another man. So will I also be 
for thee." 

All manner of miracles were attributed to prophets. 
When Moses stretched forth his hand, the waves of the Eed 
Sea retired, and left a dry path for the Israelites. Joshua 
did the same with the river Jordan. We are likewise told 
that he caused the sun to stand still ; a statement which, 
shows that Hebrews received the mistaken idea of astron- 
omy, prevailing among ancient nations, that the earth stood 
still, and the sun moved round it. The ass of Balaam is 
said to have been even more clairvoyant than his master ; 
for he saw the angel who stood in the road, and spake with, 
a human voice to inform his rider of the vision. Elijah, 
brought down fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice ; 
and, at another time, to burn up a hundred men, whom the 
king had sent to summon him. Havens brought food to 
him in the wilderness, and angels were sent to bake cakes 
for him. He cured diseases, raised a dead child to life, and 
imparted to oil and meal such a miraculous power, that 
they reproduced themselves as fast as they were used. 
The waters of Jordan divided when he touched them with, 
his mantle ; and when he died, a whirlwind took him up 
to heaven in a chariot of fire with horses of fire. Divine 
power was imparted even to the clothes he had worn ; for 
when Elisha picked up the mantle he dropped in ascending, 
he touched the waters with it, "and they parted hither 
and thither." Miraculous power seems to have been im- 
puted to the staff on which a prophet leaned. The staff of 
Elisha was laid upon a dead child to restore him to life ; 
and when the prophet went in and stretched himself upon 
the corpse, the eyes opened. He fed a hundred men with 
twenty barley loaves, caused iron to swim, and made the 
shadow on a sun-dial pass ten degrees backward. Even 
after death, his miracles did not cease ; for a dead body, 
that was placed in his tomb, came to life merely by touching 
his bones. This prophet did not always make magna- 
nimous use of his power. When some children amused 

jews. 35 

themselves concerning the baldness of his head, " he turned 
back and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And 
there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tare 
forty and two children of them." 

In addition to these wonders, related in their Sacred 
Books, the Jews told many more, which were handed 
down by tradition. It was commonly said that Elijah was 
not a man, but an angel. When he was born, it was said 
that the golden calves set up by Jeroboam bellowed so 
loud they could be heard at Jerusalem. Upon which the 
High Priest consulted the Urim and Thummim, and found 
that a prophet was just born, who would destroy the idols. 
His father dreamed that men in white garments saluted 
the infant, covered him with flame, and made him swallow 
fire. He went to Jerusalem to consult the oracle at the 
temple, and was informed the dream signified his son should 
dwell in light, and judge Israel by fire and sword. Malachi 
declared : " Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Behold I will send 
you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and 
dreadful day of the Lord." There was also a Rabbinical 
tradition that " when the Lord shall deliver Israel, three 
days before the coming of the Messiah, Elias shall come, 
and shall stand on the mountains of Israel, mourning and 

wailing concerning them After that he shall say 

unto them, Peace cometh to the world ! As it is written, 
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that 
bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace." Erom these 
predictions there grew up a universal belief that Elijah had 
been carried bodily to heaven or to some far off terrestrial 
paradise ; that he sent from thence a letter to king 
Jehoram, seven years after he ascended in the flaming 
chariot ; that he was there occupied in writing the history 
of all ages; and that shortly before the coming of the 
Messiah he would reappear on earth in person. 

It was also believed that Jeremiah would rise from the 
dead, at the coming of the Messiah, and lead the people 
to the mountain cave where he had hidden the Tabernacle 


and the Ark, when the Temple was destroyed by Nebu- 

Prophets rose up among all classes of people. Some 
were uneducated, others were great poets and orators. 
Isaiah's parentage is not certainly known. Eabbins had a 
tradition that he was the son of a prophet. Elisha was an 
agriculturist. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were descendants of 
priests. Amos was a herdsman. It was customary for 
those who sought counsel of them to take with them offer- 
ings of bread, honey, oil, and other articles of food or cloth- 
ing. The personal reverence paid to them was exceedingly 
great, and their power over the people rendered them very 
important to the government. No one was allowed to be 
buried in the holy city of Jerusalem, except prophets, and 
kings of the line of David. They were consulted in all 
emergencies, civil and ecclesiastical. When Ahab and Je- 
hoshaphat entered into an alliance against the Syrians, 
they assembled all the prophets, four hundred in number, 
to advise with them. The monarchs sat in royal robes on 
a throne before the gate of Samaria, " and all the prophets 
prophesied before them." Ezekiel often speaks of the 
elders of Israel coming to consult with him. The impor- 
tant part they performed in political affairs is everywhere 
conspicuous. Ahijah the prophet stimulated the ten tribes 
to revolt from the house of David, under the command of 
Jeroboam. When Eehoboam proposed to fight them, his 
army dispersed because a man of God forbade the battle. 
Elisha treated the king of Israel very contemptuously, 
saying: " As the Lord liveth, if it were not that I regard 
the presence of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, I would not 
look toward thee, nor see thee." The prophets appear al- 
most continually hostile to the reigning power. Such a 
class of men, made bold by their great influence over the 
people, must have been a source of perplexity to kings, in 
times of danger or difficulty ; especially as false prophets 
everywhere abounded, and the only test of truth was 
whether their predictions came to pass. Jeremiah said tc 
king Zedckiah: "Bring your necks under the king of 

jews. 37 

Babylon, and serve him and his people ; for thus saith the 
Lord, I will punish with sword, famine, and pestilence, the 
nation and kingdom that will not serve Nebuchadnezzar." 
There was a political party who gave the same advice, 
deeming it safest to submit to Babylon without any at- 
tempts at resistance. Another party, who were in favor 
of seeking aid from Egypt to oppose the invader, had also 
a prophet, named Hananiah. He declared, in presence of 
all the people: " Thus saith the Lord, I will break the yoke 
of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from the neck of all 
nations, within the space of two years." As a symbol that 
he spoke truly, " he took the yoke from off Jeremiah's 
neck, and brake it." To which Jeremiah replied: "Hear 
now, Hananiah. The Lord hath not sent thee ; but thou 
makest this people to believe a lie. Thou hast broken the 
yokes of wood, but thou shalt make for them yokes of 
iron." The king imprisoned Jeremiah, because he persist- 
ed in saying : " The king of Babylon shall certainly come 
and destroy this land." Eulers were well aware that such 
prophecies, proclaimed in the ears of the people, would 
tend to destroy their courage, and thus produce their own 
fulfilment. In common with politicians of all nations, and 
all times, they felt the importance of trying human means. 
But prophets, burning with religious zeal, despised the as- 
sistance of foreign allies, and rebuked those who relied 
upon such aid, for their want of faith in Jehovah, the Lord 
of Hosts, the Great Leader of the armies of Israel. They 
said, " A horse is a vain thing," and spoke contemptuously 
of " those who put their trust in chariots." 

Prophecies were by no means so clear and distinct in all 
cases, as were the declarations of Jeremiah and his oppo- 
nent, in the court of king Zedekiah. Their language was 8 
generally indefinite; often couched in symbolic figures, 
hard to be understood. Their predictions might be re- 
called. If judgments threatened by a prophet did not 
come to pass, it was said Grod was merciful, and had for- 
given the people because they had repented. If they fore- 
told good fortune, and the prediction failed, that did not 
Vol. II.— 4 


necessarily prove the messenger a false prophet; for the 
people might have forfeited their promised reward by some 

Prophecies partook of the character of the times in which 
they were written. Micah lived at a time when the Assy- 
rians were formidable enemies, and he prophesied of a Mes- 
siah who would deliver Israel from the Assyrians. Eze- 
kiel, who lived in the time of Babylonian captivity, prophe- 
sied of a new David, who was to gather Judah and Israel 
u from the heathen nations, whither they were gone." All 
prophesied of a time when the Messiah would come to de- 
stroy all nations that refused to conform to the Jewish re- 
ligion. Jerusalem, restored to more than its ancient glory, 
would become henceforth and forever the political and 
spiritual centre of the world. Isaiah predicts that when the 
Lord comes " to plead with all flesh by fire and by his 
sword," the Gentile nations will bring back all the Hebrews 
that are sojourning among them. " They shall bring them 
for an offering unto the Lord, out of all nations, upon 
horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and 
upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith 
the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a 
clean vessel into the house of the Lord. For as the new 
heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain 
before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed remain." 
Zechariah says : " Yea, many people and strong nations 
shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to 
pray before the Lord. In those days it shall come to pass 
that ten men, out of all languages of the nations, shall take 
hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go 
with you ; for we have heard that God is with you." 

Contradictions occasionally occur between the sacred 
prophecies of the Hebrews and their sacred history. Jere- 
miah foretold concerning Jehoiakim, son of Josiah : " He 
shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast 
forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem. His dead body shall 
be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the 
frost : and he shall have none to sit upon the throne of 

jews. 39 

David." But in the annals of the Hebrew Kings it is re- 
corded that " Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, (that is, in 
the royal sepulchres,) and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his 
stead." ' Jeremiah said of Zedekiah : " He shall surely be 
delivered into the hands of the Chaldeans. He shall go to 
Babylon. His eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of 
Babylon, and he shall speak with him mouth to mouth." 
But the history of Hebrew kings declares that Nebuchad- 
nezzar's generals put out Zedekiah's eyes, before they car- 
ried him captive to Babylon. Ezekiel, who prophesied 
later than Jeremiah, said of the same monarch : " Thus 
saith the Lord, I will bring him to Babylon ; yet shall he 
not see it, though he shall die there." 

In some instances, the spirit of prophecy seems to have 
fallen upon men quite irrespective of any holiness of cha- 
racter. When Moses gathered the seventy elders round 
about the Tabernacle, "the Lord came down in a cloud 
and spoke to Moses, and took of the Spirit that was upon 
him, and gave it unto the seventy elders; and it came to 
pass, that when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophe- 
sied, and did not cease." " When Saul sent messengers to 
take David, and they saw the company of the prophets 
prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, 
the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and 
they prophesied also. When it was told Saul, he sent 
other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And 
Saul sent messengers again, the third time, and they prophe- 
sied also. Then went he to Kamah ; and the Spirit of God 
was upon him also, and he prophesied. Wherefore they 
say, Is Saul also among the prophets?" The High Priest 
was supposed to be endowed with prophecy by virtue of 
his office ; for thus was he enabled to decipher the oracle 
by Urim and Thummim. That prophetic inspiration was 
modified by individual character, is manifested by the con- 
trast between EzekiePg formal, circumstantial style, and the 
bold, fervid eloquence of Habakkuk, or the sublimity and 
power of Isaiah. 

Private individuals often went to consult prophets con- 


cerning their own affairs ; and the time chosen was gene- 
rally the Sabbath, or the New Moon. In time of drought 
great reliance was placed on their prayers for rain. On 
some occasions r people resorted to them as they would to 
fortune-tellers, to tell of goods lost or stolen. Saul's going 
to consult Samuel where to find the asses of Kish indicates 
a popular belief that seers were useful for such matters. 
By the laws of Moses, magical arts and divination were for- 
bidden ; and prophets in subsequent times often reproved 
the people for consulting " wizards that peep and mutter." 
But this tendency of the public mind was exceedingly 
strong, at all periods. One very common species of divi- 
nation was by Teraphim ; a kind of images, or household 
gods, supposed to have been consecrated by astrologers 
under certain aspects of the stars. Other arts were prac- 
tised by people supposed to be familiar with Evil Spirits, 
from whom they obtained information concerning the fu- 
ture. " When Saul inquired of the Lord, and the Lord 
answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim r nor by 
prophets," he went to a woman at Endor, " who had a fa- 
miliar spirit j* and it is recorded that she raised up the 
ghost of Samuel to answer his inquiries. 

It was a common saying among Jews that God spake to 
men by Urim and Thummim during the days of the Taber- 
nacle ; that he spake by Prophets in the time of Solomon's 
temple •, and when the temple was rebuilt, after the return 
from captivity, he spake by Bath Kol, which means the 
Daughter of a Voice. They applied this name to a voice 
from heaven, which they say succeeded the voice of God, 
that formerly proceeded from the Mercy Seat. Others say 
it derived its name from the fact that it came out of thunder ; 
the thunder being heard first, and the Bath Kol afterward. 
The following story is told in illustration of this kind of 
prophecy. " Two Rabbins desiring to see the face of Rabbi 
Samuel, a Babylonish doctor, they said, Let us follow the 
hearing of Bath Kol. Passing by a school, they heard a 
boy reading, from the book of Samuel, the words, 'And 
Samuel died.' From this they inferred that the Rabbi 

JEWS. 41 

Samuel of Babylon was dead ; and they afterward found 
that it was so." Many similar things are mentioned in the 
writings of Jews. It was very common with them to open 
their Sacred Writings, as they would consult an oracle; 
and whatever passage was glanced at first was considered 
prophetic. An imitation of the Urim and Thummim was 
made for the second temple, but no oracular answers were 
obtained from it. The prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and 
Malachi, lived till forty years after the second temple was 
begun. With them, the spirit of prophecy departed ; there- 
fore, Malachi is called the "seal of the prophets." 

Hebrew Sacred Writings abound with conflicts between 
true prophets and false ones, and are full of complaints con- 
cerning the consequent unbelief of rulers and people. On 
one occasion the altercation between two prophets proceed- 
ed to blows. Zedekiah and Micaiah, being called to 
prophesy before the kings of Israel and Judah, disagreed 
in their testimony. " And Zedekiah smote Micaiah on the 
cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the Lord 
from me to speak unto thee ?" It is not unlikely that such 
scenes as this had greatly diminished popular reverence for 
the prophetic character, before the time of Zechariah. 
That it had fallen into disrepute, from some cause or other, 
seems to be implied by his words: "Thus saith the Lord, 
I will cause the prophets and the unclean Spirit to depart 
out of the land. And it shall come to pass that when any 
shall yet prophesy, then his father and mother shall say to 
him, Thou shah not live; for thou speakest lies in the 
name of the Lord. And it shall come to pass in that day 
that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision 
when he hath prophesied ; neither shall they wear a rough 
garment to deceive. But he shall say, I am no prophet ; 
I am an husbandman ; for men taught me to keep cattle 
from my youth." 

After the prophets had departed, Eabbis say that revela- 
tions were sometimes made to individuals ; but the Spirit 
was imparted in small measure. Of Hyrcanus, one of the 
latest rulers among the Jews, Josephus declares that " God 


considered him worthy of the three greatest privileges; 
the government of his nation, the dignity of the high 
priesthood, and prophecy ; for God was with him, and 
enabled him to know futurities." It was revealed to him 
in a dream that his two oldest sons would not succeed 
him, but that the youngest would inherit his kingdom. 
When his sons gained a victory, he announced it at the 
very moment, though he was at Jerusalem^ two days 7 
journey from the field of battle. They said it was told 
to him by Bath Kol. Josephus also assumes something of 
this gift for himself. He tells us that he " dreamed dreams 
in the night time, whereby God signified to him the future 
calamities of the Jews." He foretold on what day the 
city he was defending would be taken by the Romans, and 
himself made prisoner. He likewise predicted that Ves- 
pasian, who was then a general, would become emperor. 
Philo, the learned Alexandrian Jew, describes a prophet 
as being " a mere interpreter during the time he is under 
enthusiasm ; being himself in ignorance, his reasoning 
faculties receding and withdrawing from the citadel of his 
mind, and the Divine Spirit coming upon and dwelling in 
him, impelling and directing the organism of his voice to 
a distinct manifestation of what the Spirit predicts." 

The learned commentator De Wette remarks that "the 
miraculous diminishes in proportion as we approach his- 
torical times. In the earliest times, men have intercourse 
with angels ; at a later period, angels appear as messengers 
between God and men ; still later, the prophets perform 
the miraculous ; in times after the exile, from which we 
have contemporary accounts, the miraculous ceases alto- 

It is evident that Hebrews, at all periods of their his- 
tory, adopted the prevailing idea of subordinate Spirits 
employed by The Highest as mediums of communication 
with men. In the most ancient portion of their Sacred 
Writings, God is called Elohim, which, being a plural 
word, necessarily implies more than one. The "Spirit of 
God" is likewise spoken of as "moving on the face of the 

jews. 43 

raters." God said: "Letws make man after our image. 
Man is become as one of us. Let us go down and con- 
found their language." Jewish Kabbins explained these 
passages by saying that God addressed himself to his 
council of angels. Hindoo Sacred Books describe Gand- 
harvas, beautiful " Spirits of Singing Stars," who rejoice 
together and sing, when any great or good work is accom- 
plished by superior deities. Job also says: "When the 
foundations of the earth were fastened, and the corner- 
stone thereof was laid, the Morning Stars sang together, 
and all the Sons of God shouted for joy." In the Psalms 
it is promised, " He shall give his angels charge over thee, 
to keep thee in all thy ways." In the book of Kings, the 
Lord is described like an Asiatic monarch, " sitting on his 
throne, with all the host of heaven standing by him, on 
his right hand and on his left." Moses accused the people 
of sacrificing "unto Devils, not unto God." The Hebrew 
word used signifies Destroyers, Spirits delighting in mis- 
chief. "An Evil Spirit from the Lord" is said to have 
taken possession of Saul. Isaiah alludes to " Lucifer, son 
of the morning." The name signifies Bringer of Light, 
and was probably applied to the Spirit of the Morning 
Star. The author of the book of Job says: "The sons of 
God came to present themselves before the Lord, and 
Satan came also among them." The captivity in Babylon 
greatly influenced Hebrew habits of thought, by making 
them familiar with Chaldean and Persian ideas. They had 
always believed in Evil Spirits emploj^ed by Jehovah to 
accomplish his own purposes ; but not until the Babylonian 
captivity do they seem to have formed the idea of one 
great rebellious Spirit, in opposition to Deity, like the 
Persian Arimanes. Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, who 
wrote after that period, make frequent allusion to Spirits. 
Zechariah is the only one who mentions Satan. He de- 
scribes him as the adversary of Jerusalem, standing before 
the angel of the Lord, to resist Joshua the High Priest. 
That each nation had its own guardian spirit, was the uni- 
versal idea. Daniel alludes to the archangel Michal, as if 


he believed him to be the peculiar protector of the Jewish 
nation. The author of the book of Tobit mentions Seven 
Spirits, which seem very like the Persian Amshaspands. 
Raphael is represented as saying: "I am one of the seven 
holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and 
go in and out before the glory of the Holy One." 

In order to state clearly some spiritual changes that 
took place among the Jews, it is necessary to glance at the 
progress of their external history. From the time of 
Cyrus, Judea remained more than two hundred years de- 
pendent on Persia ; but their internal affairs were under 
the direction of High Priests and Elders, who governed 
according to the Mosaic constitution. This remnant of the 
children of Israel were more enterprising than their fathers 
had been. Commerce, which the old prophets had always 
stigmatized as "harlotry" with other nations, was con- 
tinually on the increase ; and as all Jews were obliged to 
make annual pilgrimages to the temple, and pay tithes of 
their revenue, more wealth was accumulated at Jerusalem 
than had been sent there even in the days of Solomon. 
When Alexander the Great conquered Persia, Palestine 
became tributary to him, and was involved in subsequent 
wars of his generals. One of these, Ptolemy, king of 
Egypt, besieged Jerusalem and took it. The place, being 
strongly fortified, both by nature and art, might perhaps 
have held out long against him, had he not been suffi- 
ciently cunning to attack it on the Sabbath, when he knew 
the inhabitants deemed it unlawful to do anything, even 
for the defence of their lives. The Jews did not suffer by 
this change of masters, for Ptolemy did not interfere with 
their internal government, or with any of their peculiar 
customs. The successors of Alexander the Great, who 
governed the Syrian portion of his empire, contended with 
those who governed the Egyptian portion ; and Judea 
passed under the dominion of Syrio-Macedonian kings. 
One of these, Antiochus Fourth, issued a decree that all 
people under his government should conform to the reli- 
gion of their king, and worship the same gods in the same 

jews. 45 

manner he did. This was doubtless aimed principally at 
the Jews ; for the worship of other nations under his sway 
too much resembled his own, to provoke such a law. He 
sent overseers into all the provinces of his empire, to in- 
struct people how to worship according to one model. 
Jews were forbidden to circumcise their children, to ob- 
serve any of their religious festivals, or offer sacrifices to 
the God of Israel. They were ordered to eat the flesh of 
swine, and other animals, which their law pronounced 
unclean. Copies of the Law of Moses were hunted up, 
and destroyed wherever they could be found. The temple 
was robbed of its ornaments, and polluted by the introduc- 
tion of things abhorrent to Jewish feeling. An image of 
Jupiter was set up in the inner court, with an altar for 
sacrifice before it. Statues and altars were placed in all 
the groves. People were commanded to worship them, 
and whoever disobeyed was put to death. Fear, and a 
desire to gain favour with the king, induced some to com- 
ply; but great numbers cheerfully sacrificed their lives, 
rather than prove false to their religion. Mattathias, a 
man of rank and character among the priests, was offered 
riches and honours if he would set the people an example 
in the worship of Jupiter. But with a loud voice, in hear- 
ing of all, he proclaimed that no commands, and no re- 
wards, should ever induce him or his family to depart 
from the law of their God. When he saw one of the Jews 
approach the altar of Jupiter, to worship as the king had 
decreed, in the heat of his zeal he fell upon him and the 
royal commissioner and slew them. He then fled with his 
family to the mountains, whither many of the people fol- 
lowed him. The mountains and deserts of Judea were 
filled with fugitives from the persecution of Antiochus. 
A thousand of them being assembled in a cave near Jeru- 
salem, military forces were sent out to reduce them to 
obedience. They were offered forgiveness for the past, if 
they would submit in future ; but they all declared they 
had rather die than desert the faith of their fathers. Anti- 
ochus, being aware of their religious scruples, ordered 


them to be attacked on the Sabbath ; in consequence of 
which they were all cut off, men, women, and children. 
When Mattathias heard the sad tidings, he became alarmed 
lest all the faithful followers of Moses should be destroyed 
by the same stratagem. He and his adherents held a con- 
sultation, and came to the conclusion that laws were not 
strictly binding in cases of such extreme necessity. They 
unanimously resolved to defend their lives, if they were 
attacked on the Sabbath; and this rule was afterward 
adopted by all the Jews. Antiochus, meeting such obsti^ 
nate resistance to his decree, went to Judea in person, and 
tried to enforce obedience by terrible severity. "Eleazar, 
one of the principal scribes, an aged man, and of a well- 
favoured countenance, was constrained to open his mouth 
and eat swine's flesh. But he, choosing rather to die 
gloriously, than to live stained with such an abomination, 
spit it forth." Some who were with him took him aside 
and begged him to substitute privately some other flesh, 
and pretend that he was obeying the royal command. But 
he said it did not become the honour of his gray head to 
dissemble, and thereby induce young persons to suppose 
that " Eleazar, being fourscore years old and ten, had now 
gone to a strange religion." He declared himself ready 
to die, rather than mislead others by such hypocrisy ; add- 
ing, " Though for the present I should be delivered from 
the punishment of men, yet should I not escape the pun- 
ishment of the Almighty, alive nor dead." And so the 
brave and true old man was scourged to death, saying 
with his last breath: "I am well content to suffer these 
things, because I fear the Lord." Afterward, a mother 
and her seven sons were tormented with whips to make 
them eat swine's flesh. The king, enraged by their refusal, 
mutilated the young men, one after another, before the 
eyes of their mother, and threw their limbs into the fire. 
They resolutely held forth their hands and tongues to be 
cut off, saying to their royal tormentor : " We suffer these 
things for having sinned against our God ; therefore mar- 
vellous things are not done for us. Yet think not our 

jews. 47 

nation is forsaken of God ; but abide awhile and behold 
his great power, how he will torment thee and thy seed. 
Though put to death by men, we have hope in God, to be 
raised up again by him. As for thee, thou shalt have no 
resurrection to life." . When all were dead but the young- 
est, Antiochus offered him wealth and honours if he would 
submit, and he exhorted the mother thus to counsel her 
only surviving son. But she said to the youth: "Fear 
not this tormentor, be worthy of thy brethren, and take 
thy death ; that I may receive thee in mercy with them 
again." The young man could scarcely wait for her to 
finish before he replied : "I will not obey the command- 
ment of the king ; but I will obey the Law given unto 
our fathers by Moses." They both died courageously, 
mother and son, under treatment more cruel than the 
others had suffered. 

When Antiochus had left Judea, Mattathias, the priest, 
who had lain concealed with a band of followers in the 
mountains, came forth, and collected a small army of faith- 
ful Jews, resolved to fight to the last for liberty to worship 
God according to their own consciences. They went 
through the cities of Judea, collected all the copies of the 
Law, circumcised all the uncircumcised children, pulled 
down the foreign altars, cut off all apostates who fell into 
their hands, slaughtered their persecutors wherever they 
came, and caused religious service to be again performed in 
the synagogues. The aged Mattathias died in the midst 
of this campaign, and left his sons to carry on the war. 
The eldest, Judas Maccabseus, took command of the in- 
creasing army, bearing a standard on which was inscribed, 
"Who is like unto thee among the gods, O Jehovah?" 
He defeated the forces of the Syrian king, and took Jeru- 
salem out of their hands, one hundred and sixty-five years 
before Christ. He purified the temple, and dedicated it 
anew to the God of Israel, with songs and citherns, harps 
and cymbals, oblations and sacrifices, for eight days. 
Eabbis say they found but one bottle of pure oil in the 
temple, sufficient for one day only ; but by a miracle it 


kept the lamps burning eight days. In commemoration 
of this joyful event, they ever after observed a festival of 
eight days, during which Hallelujahs were daily sung in 
the temple. It was called the Feast of Lights ; because, 
in whatsoever country an Israelite happened to be on that 
occasion, he lighted his house with lamps, one for each 
member of the family, and kept them burning all night. 
If very poor, he was bound to beg oil for the purpose, or 
sell his garments to obtain it. 

The first account of intercourse between Jews and Eo- 
mans occurs in the time of Judas Maccabaeus, who sent 
ambassadors to Eome, to strengthen his power by alliance. 
He and his brothers were successively invested with the 
dignity of High Priests and Kulers of the nation ; and the 
dignity descended in the line of his family, called Asmo- 
nean, or the Illustrious. Civil war finally broke out be- 
tween two brothers concerning succession to the throne ; 
and the bitterness of these internal dissensions was greatly 
increased by the wrangling of two hostile sects, the Phari- 
sees and Sadducees. One of the contending brothers called 
the Eomans to his aid ; and for three months Jerusalem 
was besieged. The Jews availed themselves of the prece- 
dent established by Mattathias, and no longer scrupled to 
defend their lives on the Sabbath. But they put such lit- 
eral construction on his words, that they deemed it unlaw- 
ful to exert themselves unless their lives were actually 
attacked. Any preparations for defence were considered 
a desecration of the holy time. Pompey, having ascer- 
tained this fact, ordered his troops not to assault them on 
the Sabbath, but to spend the whole day placing battering- 
rams against the walls of Jerusalem, and bringing up 
engines of war in readiness for the attack. 

The Holy City was captured by the Eomans, sixty-three 
years before Christ, on the very day kept as an anniver- 
sary fast, in commemoration of the destruction of the temple 
by Nebuchadnezzar. When the sacred building was seized 
by Eornan soldiers, priests went on offering prayers and 
sacrifices, though in the general confusion their own blood 

jews. 49 

mingled freely with the blood of sacrifices. Pompey found 
much money, and valuable utensils of gold and silver ; but 
he left them all to be applied to the sacred uses for which 
they were dedicated. He even ordered the temple to be 
cleansed, and worship to be performed there as usual. In 
this he acted according to the general policy of Eomans, 
who always endeavoured to conciliate conquered nations 
by allowing them the free exercise of their religion. But 
he greatly offended the Jews by going into the Holy of 
Holies, which they deemed it profanation for any one, ex- 
cept their own High Priest, to do. That it should have 
been entered by a Gentile, seemed to them a more grievous 
calamity than anything which had happened during the 
siege ; and all Pompey's subsequent misfortunes were by 
them attributed to this audacious offence against the God 
of Israel. 

Hyrcanus, a descendant of Judas Maccabaeus, was left at 
the head of affairs in Judea. Thenceforth, Eoman govern- 
ors and soldiers resided there, and the country paid tribute 
to its conquerors ; but the people were unmolested in their 
peculiar customs, and ecclesiastical affairs were managed 
by their own priesthood. About thirty -five years before 
Christ, Herod the Great was appointed chief ruler. He 
was a Jew by birth, and married to a descendant of the 
illustrious house of Judas Maccabseus. Bat in order to in- 
gratiate himself with the Bomans, he devoted himself to 
their interests, and in many things acted contrary to Jew- 
ish laws ; urging in excuse that he was compelled to do 
so. He dissolved the national council of elders, and ap- 
pointed high priests and removed them, without any re- 
gard to the rules of succession. He built temples in 
Grecian style, placed statues in his palaces, and adopted 
many Boman customs. For these reasons, many of his 
subjects reproached him with being a half Jew. Yet he 
had a very strong party in his favour, and many believed 
him to be the promised Messiah, on account of his power 
and magnificence. 

The temple built in Ezra's time had stood about five 
Vol. II.— 5 c 


hundred years. Being in the strongest part of Jerusalem, 
and well fortified, the inhabitants were accustomed to take 
refuge there in time of war. It had consequently suffered 
much by violence, as well as by gradual decay. Herod 
rebuilt it on a larger scale, and surrounded it by four courts 
rising above each other, like terraces. The lowest was 
called the Court of the Gentiles, because individuals of all 
nations were there admitted indiscriminately ; but an in- 
scription on the railing, both in Hebrew and Greek, warned 
them to proceed no further. The temple was of white 
marble, richly ornamented with gilding. It was constructed 
on a model similar to that of Solomon, but was much larger, 
and some say more magnificent. Forty-six years were ex- 
pended in the completion of it. 

The numerous historical changes, briefly alluded to in 
preceding pages, produced effects on the religious character 
and opinions of Jews, which it is necessary to explain. 
Before the captivity in Babylon, Hebrews had lived almost 
entirely apart from other nations, being insulated by their 
peculiar customs, their prejudice against commerce, and 
their total ignorance of foreign literature. But in Babylon 
they did not reside in a district by themselves, as they had 
done in Egypt, in the time of Joseph. They were scattered 
through the whole length and breadth of the land, and 
mixed with all classes of people for more than half a cen- 
tury. The devout among them doubtless adhered to 
Mosaic regulations with the tenacity characteristic of their 
race. But no efforts of the old could effectually guard 
rising generations from the new ideas with which they 
came in contact on every side. The strength of this foreign 
influence is implied by the fact that they lost their language 
in the process. The original dialect of Abraham was the 
Chaldean, spoken in Babylon. When he removed to Pal- 
estine, he was made familiar with the language of Canaan- 
ites, called by the Greeks Phoenician. This, with some 
modifications, became the vernacular tongue of his descend- 
ants, and from them called Hebrew. But when they were 
carried to Babylon fourteen hundred years after Abraham, 

JEWS. 51 

they "heard the Chaldean language spoken all around them, 
and were obliged to use it in their daily intercourse with 
others. Thus the young people, who grew up in a foreign 
land, acquired a mixed language, called the Aramaean, with 
which they returned from exile. When Ezra copied their 
ancient writings, he wrote Hebrew words in Chaldean 
characters. The old language was understood by the aged, 
and by the learned ; but when the Law of Moses was rend 
in the synagogues, it was necessary for an interpreter to 
explain it to the populace in the new dialect. From that 
time henceforth Hebrew ceased to be spoken, and existed 
only as a written, or dead language. 

The whole tendency of Hebrew teaching was to inculcate 
implicit faith in the laws and doctrines revealed by Moses. 
Intellect, having nothing to do, did not wake from its 
lethargy. On every subject there was but one question to 
be asked : Has Moses so commanded ? Where there is no 
progress, there are no sects ; accordingly there appears to 
have been no collision of opinions until after the return 
from exile; and even when minds began to exert a little 
freedom, they did it very timidly, covering their innova- 
tions with professions of allegiance to their lawgiver. 

The first separation was between Jewish and Samaritan 
worshippers of the same God. Jews indignantly refused 
assistance from Samaritan neighbours, in building the sec- 
ond temple, because they were not Israelites by descent, 
and because their religion was mixed with many foreign 
adulterations. This occasioned a rancorous feeling, and 
induced the Samaritans to do all they could to hinder the 
building of the temple. They called Ezra an impostor, 
who was guilty of sacrilege in writing the Law of Moses in 
Chaldean letters, and of unjust partiality toward the de- 
scendants of David, in the books he compiled and wrote. 
But when Palestine submitted to Alexander the Great, they 
renewed their efforts to effect a civil and ecclesiastical alli- 
ance with Judea. For that purpose, the Governor of Sa- 
maria married his daughter to a brother of the Jewish High 
Priest. This matrimonial alliance out of their own tribes 


so deeply offended the Jews, that thej banished their 
priest's brother, and forever excluded him from the succes- 
sion. The Governor of Samaria took the exile under his 
protection, built a magnificent temple on Mount Gerizim, 
similar to that at Jerusalem, and appointed him its High 
Priest. A powerful body of disaffected Jews went with 
him, and much care was taken to conform their doctrines 
and ritual of worship to the Law of Moses. They prac- 
tised circumcision, and observed the Sabbath with even 
more strictness than Jews; for in whatever posture a 
person happened to be when the holy time commenced, so 
he was obliged to remain until it ended. They expected a 
great prophet to arise among them, a Messiah, who was to 
deliver them from calamity, and teach them all things. 
They insisted that Mount Gerizim was the place Moses in- 
tended to designate, when he told the people to offer obla- 
tions and sacrifices "in the place that God should choose 
out of all their tribes, to put his name there." To prove 
that it was the actual "hill of blessing," they asserted that 
it was the place where Abraham and Jacob built altars, 
and where Joshua erected an altar of twelve stones, on 
which he inscribed the Law of Moses. Jews considered 
them profane imitators of their religion, and would not ad- 
mit that they had any part or lot in the God of Israel. A 
deadly enmity existed between them, which frequently 
broke out in open hostilities. Several sects arose among 
the Samaritans ; one of them abstained from marriage, and 
tasted no animal food. 

During the persecution of the Jewish religion by Anti- 
ochus, Samaritans, fearing to be involved therein, sent him 
a petition, stating that they were descended from Sido- 
nians, Medes, and Persians, and were in no way related 
to the Jews. They admitted that they also sacrificed to a 
God without a name, and observed the same religious rites; 
but they alleged that it was merely because their fathers 
had introduced this worship in old times, to free the country 
from lions. They declared that their temple had as yet been 
dedicated to no especial deity, and begged that it might be 

jews. 53 

consecrated to Jupiter Xenios, the Protector of Strangers, 
because they were strangers in the land, and not of the race 
of Israel. Antiochus forbade his deputies to molest them, 
and while the persecution lasted, they paid homage to Ju- 
piter. They were finally conquered by Jews, and their 
temple on Mount Gerizim was destroyed. 

After the return from captivity, many changes took 
place among the Jews themselves in their customs and 
modes of thinking. When Ezra attempted to restore the 
Hebrew religion, he not only collected all the fragments he 
could find of old writings, but he likewise consulted aged 
people, and gleaned from their memories all that could be 
gained concerning ancient usages. This was assumed as a 
standard of practice, under the name of traditions. This 
Traditionary Law, which related to prayers, fastings, puri- 
fications, and other ceremonies of religion, came to be 
regarded by many as of equal authority with the Written 
Law. They said, when Moses waited upon God forty days 
on the mountain, he received a double law. One portion 
he was commanded to commit to writing. The other por- 
tion, likewise spoken to him by the mouth of God, con- 
tained a full explanation and detailed application of the 
more compendious Written Law. When Moses returned 
to his tent, he repeated this Oral Law, first to Aaron, then 
to his sons Ithamar and Eleazar, then to the seventy elders 
constituting the Sanhedrim, and lastly to all the people. 
Aaron, being always present, heard it four times repeated ; 
and it was repeated again and again, until the whole con- 
gregation had heard it four times. Moses, on his death- 
bed, repeated it to Joshua ; he repeated it to the elders ; 
they repeated it to the prophets ; the prophets repeated it 
to the wise men of the Great Synagogue ; and the wise men 
carefully transmitted it to their successors. This succession 
of Fathers, whom they call Doctors, were regarded with 
extreme veneration. The accounts given of them abound 
with miracles. It is said they were often guided by Bath 
Kol ; that they had power to restrain sorcerers, command 
devils, and speak with angels. Hebrews, from the infancy 
Yol. IL—5* 


of their nation, had always been taught to consider them- 
selves the only people on earth to whom God revealed 
divine truth. When circumstances forced them to mix 
with foreigners, and their habits of thought unavoidably 
became modified by the process, they were extremely re- 
luctant to acknowledge that they received any ideas, or 
customs, from others. Everything which commended 
itself to them as wise or good, they maintained must have 
been, somehow or other, communicated by God to Moses ; 
because they honestly believed that no important religious 
truth had ever come into the world through any other 
medium. From Egypt, Babylon, and neighbouring nations 
of Syria, they imbibed many ideas concerning successive 
emanations from God, a hierarchy of Spirits, the transmi- 
gration and immortality of the soul, the infestation of 
devils, occasioning insanity and other diseases, the magic 
power of certain sacred formulas, and astronomical predic- 
tions concerning the destruction of the world. To ac- 
knowledge such notions to be of Gentile origin, would lay 
them open to condemnation at once. The written Law of 
Moses contained none of these things. Moreover, being 
framed for a rude nomadic people, it was in many respects 
ill adapted to the wants of Jews in later times; yet it was 
deemed sacrilege to add or alter a single word. Commu- 
nications of which there was no standard copy, were more 
elastic in their nature. The Traditionary Law could be 
stretched to meet any emergency, and made to include 
everything under its veil of commentaries. But the pro- 
cess naturally gave rise to various sects. These all agreed 
in acknowledging themselves bound by the Law of Moses, 
all conformed to the established ceremonies of religion, all 
believed that divine revelations were confined solely to the 
Hebrews, and all expected that a great Deliverer would 
rise up among them, to restore their former glory, and give 
them dominion over other nations. Nevertheless, they 
were always disputing with each other. Their controver- 
sies never embraced general questions of literature, science, 
and philosophy, as did the discussions of Greek or Koman 

JEWS. 55 

scholars. They were peculiarly exclusive and Jewish in 
their character, chiefly relating to the comparative value 
of their written and traditionary Law, the importance of 
certain ceremonies, and the adaptation of ancient rules to 
present wants, by means of subtile distinctions and elaborate 

The most numerous and influential among the sects were 
the Pharisees, who are supposed to have become prominent 
about three hundred years before Christ. Their name 
signified The Separated ; because they were separated from 
others by their peculiar sanctity. They were chiefly dis- 
tinguished by their great reverence for the Traditionary 
Law. They likewise maintained that there was a double 
meaning in the Written Law ; one relating merely to the 
external words, another to an inward mystical significance. 
From these two sources, they ingeniously derived argu- 
ments to sustain all new opinions and practices. From 
some source or other, they had received the old Hindoo 
idea, that a man might perform of meritorious works more 
than enough for justification with Grod; that he might lay 
up an additional fund, like stock in a bank, for future 
benefit. Hence they were profuse in alms-giving, repeated 
many more prayers than other men, and were much more 
scrupulous with regard to numerous washings, purifications, 
fasts, and other ceremonies. They never, under any cir- 
cumstances, ate bread with unwashen hands. If there was 
not water enough to wash and drink, a devout Pharisee 
preferred to die with thirst, rather than not wash. They 
had hot controversies with other sects concerning what 
articles were subject to tithes. Of mint, anise, and cum- 
min, others paid a hundredth part to the priests, but they 
paid a tenth. They wore their robes longer than common, 
so that the fringe, which was a peculiarity of Jewish cos- 
tume, swept the ground. In these fringes they often fixed 
sharp thorns, to torment them as they walked. Moses had 
commanded the children of Israel to write certain sentences 
of his Law on their gates and door-posts, and to bind them 
upon their hands and between their eyes. These texts 


were written on strips of parchment and placed in small 
cases, one bound on the forehead, the other on the left arm. 
They received the name of Phylacteries, from a Greek 
word, meaning, I watch, I guard. Pharisees wore these 
holy badges very large, and conspicuously placed. Some 
zealots among them always walked very close to the wall, 
and carefully avoided those that passed, lest they should 
contract pollution, by touching something morallv, physi- 
cally, or legally unclean. Some wore a deep cap, like a 
mortar, pulled down so far that they could see nothing but 
their own feet. Some walked with their eyes shut, lest 
they should be tempted by the sight of a woman. In this 
situation they often struck their heads against the wall. 
This sect believed that everything was predestined, and 
that man could do nothing without divine influence ; but 
they maintained that they held this doctrine in a way not 
inconsistent with human freedom. They believed that 
every good work received its degree of reward, and every 
bad one its degree of punishment ; and these rewards and 
punishments extended both to the body and the soul. 
Souls of the very wicked would be confined to a prison 
under the earth. Those who had been less criminal, were 
punished by being again sent into bodies, afflicted with 
disease. Therefore, if a man was born blind or deaf, they 
regarded it as a penalty for sin committed, either by his 
progenitors, or by himself, in some previous state of ex- 
istence. They believed in the resurrection of the body, 
but confined it to Jews only. Other nations would remain 
in their graves. Many held the opinion that the soul died 
with the body, and would be raised with it. But the general 
belief was that the souls of pious Israelites were transferred 
at death to a region of Paradise, where they would remain 
waiting till the Messiah recalled them to their bodies, on 
the day of resurrection. It was a prevalent opinion, that 
the valley of Jehoshaphat would be the scene of this great 
rising; therefore many Jews wished to be buried there. 
This doctrine was tinged with the national exclusiveness 
which marked all their opinions. They maintained that 

jews. 57 

God created a certain number of Jewish souls, which would 
return on earth as long as Jews were to be found there. 
By way of penance for sin, they sometimes sojourned 
awhile in the bodies of animals ; but at the day of resur- 
rection they were all to be purified, and in the forms of just 
men revive on the soil of the promised land. Eabbinical 
writings show very plainly that their belief in the immor- 
tality of the soul involved the doctrine, of transmigration. 
Josephus, who belonged to the sect of Pharisees, says: 
"All have mortal bodies, formed of corruptible matter; 
but the soul is immortal, being a portion of the Divinity 
inhabiting our bodies. Pure and obedient souls remain 
about to receive a most holy place in heaven, from whence, 
after the revolution of ages, they shall be again appointed 
to inhabit new bodies. But the souls of those who have 
madly laid violent hands on themselves shall be consigned 
to the darkest grave, or hell." In another place, he says : 
"What man of virtue is there, who does not know that 
those souls, which are severed from their fleshly bodies by 
the sword in battle, are received by ether, the purest of the 
elements, and joined to that company who are placed 
among the stars? That they become good demons, and 
propitious heroes, and show themselves as such to their 
posterity afterward ? Those souls that wear away in and 
with their distempered bodies dissolve away to nothing in 
subterranean night, and a deep oblivion takes away all re- 
membrance of them ; even if they be clean from all spots 
and defilements of this world. So that, in this case, the 
soul comes, at the same time, to the utmost bounds of its 
life, its body, and its memorial also." 

Pharisees adhered to the worship of One God, but be- 
lieved in a multitude of Spirits, good and bad. The first 
of these Sons of the Supreme was with God from the be- 
ginning, and capable of manifesting himself on earth for 
benevolent purposes. It was a common opinion that Je- 
hovah had placed the nations of the earth under the 
guidance of the Spirits of the Stars; each country hav- 
ing its own particular guardian ; but that Hebrew? were 


solely under the direction of the One Supreme Being, and 
not subject to any of his subordinate ministers. Moses 
forbade them to lift their eyes in worship to the sun, moon, 
or stars, giving as a reason, " For the Lord thy God hath 
divided them unto all nations under the whole heaven ; 
but he hath taken you to be unto him a people of inherit- 

Jews accounted prayer an inner sacrifice of the heart, 
and there was a general belief that it healed sickness, and 
drove away Evil Spirits. Pharisees were pre-eminently 
men of prayer, and the services of the most devout among 
them were often sought. It is recorded that the Eabbi 
Gamaliel sent to the Eabbi Chanina, begging prayers in 
behalf of his son, who was very ill. The messengers 
were requested to wait, while the pious man retired to the 
house-top, where the Alijah, or private apartment for 
prayer, was situated. When he returned, he assured them 
the young man had already recovered ; and they found it 
had so occurred at the hour he had spoken. 

The conspicuous charity and superior sanctity of the 
Pharisees gave them such hold on the popular mind, that 
the great found it good policy to court their favour. They 
were called pious men, by way of distinction above right- 
eous or just men, who considered it sufficient to obey the 
Written Law. They were always prone to punish hereti- 
cal opinions more severely than offences against morals. 
Zealots among them not unfrequently stoned to death, or 
otherwise destroyed, those whom they regarded as blas- 
phemers, or as Sabbath-breakers. This sect continued to 
increase in numbers and power, and in the later days held 
chief sway in the Sanhedrim and synagogues. Eelying 
upon popular veneration, they carried matters with so high 
a hand, that they did not fear to offend either magistrates 
or princes. Their zeal and pertinacity often produced 
civil dissensions, and were a constant source of vexation 
to the Eoman government. It was a favourite theme with 
them that it was unlawful to pay tribute to Caesar ; because 
Moses had said : " Thou mayest not set a stranger over 

jews. 59 

thee, who is not thy brother." They greatly disliked 
Herod, because he manifested so little Jewish exclusive 
ness. They constantly reminded the people that Jehovah 
could not forsake the descendants of Israel ; that he was 
bound by his own solemn promise to send a Messiah, who 
would free them from all foreign yokes, and bring them 
eternal prosperity. 

One sect, called Galileans, adopted the doctrine of a 
fierce zealot, Judas of Galilee, who maintained that it was 
wrong to acknowledge allegiance to any government, ex- 
cept the direct government of God. This sect was soon 
suppressed, but it propagated a violent spirit of insurrec- 
tion, which subsequently produced disastrous effects. 

The prophets had frequently repeated that oblations and 
sacrifices did not atone for intentional sins, unless accom- 
panied by sincere repentance. But the teaching of the 
Pharisees had such an effect on the popular mind, that the 
multitude expected temporal prosperity and future reward, 
in proportion to the number of their sacrifices, ablutions, 
and prayers. Some minds were offended by these views, 
and regarded them as altogether low and external. Among 
these, Antogonus Sochoeus was conspicuous for his dislike 
of traditionary institutions, and pious works of superero- 
gation. He insisted that men ought to serve God from 
pure disinterested principle, and not for the sake of hire. 
One of his disciples, named Sadoc, maintained that not 
merely promises of temporal prosperity, but the doctrine 
of future rewards, appealed to the selfish feelings in man ; 
that a just person ought not to require or expect any com- 
pensation for his justice. He declared there would be no 
resurrection from the dead, and no future existence. From 
him the sect of Sadducees took their name. They were 
strongly attached to the Written Law of Moses, which 
they said contained nothing further than the literal signifi- 
cation of the words, without any hidden mystical meaning. 
They rejected, as mere human inventions, all laws and 
traditions not comprehended therein. They worshipped 
one God, who created the world and continually governed 


it. They denied the immortality of the soul and the 
resurrection of the body, because the literal meaning of 
the Books of Moses conveyed no such ideas. They con- 
sidered those doctrines as among the foreign additions to 
Judaism, which it was their wish to restore to its original 
simplicity. They did not believe that Spirits of any kind 
existed without the vestment of a mortal body. They 
consequently rejected the prevailing idea that diseases 
were occasioned by the infestation of Evil Spirits, who 
could be cast out by a form of sacred words. They denied 
predestination, and said Grod had made man master of his 
own actions, with freedom to choose between good and evil. 
This opinion led them to judge moral delinquencies with 
great austerity. They held the sanctified practices of 
Pharisees in great contempt, and Pharisees despised them 
as mere respectable moralists ; but the two parties often 
united in the common cause of defending the Jewish 
religion. The Sadducees were a small sect, mostly com- 
posed of men of quality. They were less inclined to con- 
troversy than the Pharisees, and were satisfied to rest their 
claim to public respect on the propriety of their manners 
and actions. They often held honourable offices, and 
were sometimes even promoted to the highest sacerdotal 

A third sect were called Karaites, which means Scrip- 
turists ; because, like the Sadducees, they believed only in 
the Sacred Writings, and rejected traditions. They ad- 
mitted that the Traditionary Law was of some value, as 
expressing the opinions of learned men on obscure pas- 
sages of the Written Law ; but they denied its claim to 
divine authority. They held the common belief concern- 
ing Jehovah, as the one uncreated God, who rewarded 
goodness and punished wickedness. They believed true 
repentance took away sin ; that the human mind was sub- 
ject to divine influence, but perfectly free in its volitions. 
They were strict observers of fasts and other ordinances 
of religion. They believed in the immortality of the soul ; 
that spirits of the good ascended after death to a world of 

JEWS. 61 

bright and happy Intelligences, and wicked souls de- 
scended to places of suffering. 

There were some classes of votaries among the Jews in 
whom the ascetic, or monastic, tendencies were exhibited 
in greater or less degrees. The Eechabites, or descendants 
of Rechab, were a distinct society by themselves. They 
strictly observed all the Hebrew rites, and were bound by 
additional vows made to their father, that they and their 
posterity would drink no wine, plant no vineyards, sow 
no fields, build no houses, but dwell forever in tents ; that 
they might "live many days in the land." 

Sometimes men dedicated themselves to the Lord by a 
voluntary vow to perform certain acts of religion over and 
above those prescribed by the Law. The term might be 
for months, for years, or for life. This was called the 
Great Yow, or Separation unto the Lord ; and those who 
took it were termed ISTazarites, which means separated or 
sanctified. If young women made this vow without per- 
mission of their fathers, or married women without consent 
of their husbands, their masters could cancel the obligation. 
But women free from the power of parents, or husbands, 
could become ISTazarites whenever they were so inclined. 
This class of people must have existed from an early 
period ; for Moses is represented as giving special laws for 
them. When they dedicated themselves, they offered sac- 
rifices, and the priest shaved their heads. The hair that 
grew afterward, was sacred to the Lord, and must not be 
touched by razor or scissors during the whole period of the 
vow, even if it was for life. A ISTazarite was not allowed 
to enter a house which contained a corpse, even if it were 
the body of his own father or mother. If a person died 
suddenly in his presence, he was polluted by the accidental 
vicinity of the dead body, and was obliged to renew his 
vow. The time he had previously consecrated was lost, 
" because his separation was defiled." It was necessary to 
shave his head again, offer sacrifices, perform ablutions, 
and be sprinkled with water containing ashes of the red 
'heifer. Hair cut off under such circumstances was con» 
Vol. II.— 6 


sidered unholy, and could not be burned in sacrifice to God. 
But if he purely performed the whole period of his vow, 
the hair he had consecrated to Jehovah was cut off at the 
expiration of the term, and burnt as a sacrifice on the altar. 
Nazarites were forbidden to taste wine, or strong drinks, to 
eat grapes, either fresh or dried, or anything " made of the 
vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk." Some of 
them wore garments of hair, and dwelt apart from the mul- 
titude, either in the temple, or in solitary places. Some- 
times parents vowed a child to the Lord before he was 
born; as was the case with Samson and Samuel. In that 
case, the mother was bound to observe, before his birth, the 
same restrictions that it would be necessary for himself to 
observe afterward. For fear of polluting herself by contact 
with the dead, or with anything unclean, she usually hid 
herself, or lived apart from company. It seems likely that 
the hair of the head, when thus consecrated, was supposed 
to protect the owner, or to be in some way endowed with 
supernatural power ; for Samson told his mistress, " I have 
been a Kazan te unto God from my mother's womb. If I 
be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall 
become weak, and be like any other man." When ene- 
mies cut off his hair, "the Lord departed from him," and 
he was completely in their power. But afterward, when 
it grew again, it is said his miraculous strength was re- 

In the course of historical changes, other influences than 
Chaldean were brought to act powerfully on the Jewish 
mind. When Ptolemy, king of Egypt, conquered Jerusa- 
lem, about three hundred and twenty years before Christ, 
he induced many Jews to emigrate to Alexandria. It was 
good policy to attract enterprising and wealthy foreigners 
to the capital of his new empire ; and for that purpose, he 
gave them great commercial advantages, and allowed free 
exercise of their national religion. Jews emigrated thither 
in great numbers, until they became about as numerous in 
Egypt as they were in Palestine. The basis of the popu- 
lation in Alexandria was Grecian. The language was 

jews. 63 

Greek, the customs were more after Grecian patterns than 
any other. But all nations congregated there, and teach- 
ers of all creeds were allowed to promulgate their doctrines. 
Jews in Egypt were zealous in their attachment to the 
Law of Moses. They built a temple to Jehovah, and es- 
tablished synagogues for the instruction of the people. 
But in process of time, they forgot the language of Pales- 
tine, called Aramaean, and spoke Greek only. As for the 
old Hebrew, in which their Sacred Books were written, it 
was rare to find a man among them who could read it. At 
last, the inconvenience became so great, it was necessary to 
translate the Law into Greek. Notwithstanding the ha- 
bitual aversion of Jews to mingle with foreigners, it was 
impossible, under such circumstances, for their young men 
to resist the love of novelty, and the free spirit of inquiry 
which formed an atmosphere around them. They frequent- 
ed Alexandrian schools, and acquired such a taste for 
Grecian philosophy, that some of their zealous priests 
thought it necessary to pronounce a solemn anathema upon 
any father who allowed his children to acquire such un- 
hallowed learning. The emigrants were mainly devoted 
to commerce, and in pursuit of wealth they branched off 
through all the cities of the Koman empire. Wherever 
they went, they spoke Greek, which was the universal me- 
dium of communication at that period. They were gene- 
rally called Hellenistic Jews, which means Grecian Jews. 
They observed all the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law as 
strictly as Jews of Palestine ; but their brethren in the old 
country reckoned them inferior, because they inhabited 
Gentile lands, and spoke a Gentile tongue. 

From intercourse with foreigners in Babylon, Egypt, 
Greece, and elsewhere, arose new habits and forms of 
opinion, which the learned cannot accurately trace to their 
source. It has been shown that the Hindoo, Egyptian, 
and Chaldean religions were exceedingly similar. Their 
doctrine concerning the evil nature of Matter was floating 
t abroad extensively, and mixing with the theories of all 
nations. Its natural tendency was to produce anchorites, 


and communities of hermits, whose principal object it was 
to free the soul from the thraldom of material laws, by sub- 
jugating or annihilating the body. It is not unlikely that 
the Jews, during their exile in Babylon, might become ac- 
quainted with associations of hermits, resembling those of 
ancient Hindostan. In the course of their numerous wars, 
overturns, and persecutions, they often fled to Egypt ; and 
refugees, hiding in the mountains and deserts, would be al- 
most sure to encounter devotees, who had there secreted 
themselves from the world. The theories of Pythagoras 
are obviously derived from ancient Egypt ; and after his 
death, his persecuted disciples took refuge in the land 
where their master had learned the Mysteries. Exiled 
Jews might have become acquainted with such individuals, 
or communities, and have adopted some of their ideas and 
customs, while they still retained tenacious attachment to 
the Law of Moses. The tendency to monasticism, which 
began to manifest itself during the later centuries, might 
have grown out of the same principles of human nature, 
which produced it elsewhere ; but, though modified more 
or less by old Hebrew ideas, it was mixed with doctrines 
of dissimilar character, and of opposite tendency, indicating 
a foreign origin. 

Josephus says he lived three years with a hermit in the 
desert, who used no other clothing than what he obtained 
from trees, ate only such vegetable substances as grew of 
their own accord, and bathed himself with cold water fre- 
quently, night and day, in order to preserve his chastity. 
He also gives an account of peculiar associations of men 
called Essenes, who had long been an established sect, 
and in his time were scattered about in various parts 
of Palestine. About two hundred years before Christ, a 
band of pious men withdrew from the storms and tempta- 
tions of the world, and took up their residence near the 
Dead sea. The name of Essenes is supposed to have been, 
given them from a Chaldean word signifying physician ; 
for they were reputed to have uncommon skill in medicine. 
They called themselves " physicians of the body and the 

jews. 65 

soul," and were generally so regarded by others. It is said 
they used various religious ceremonies, as a means of ob- 
taining revelations concerning the nature of herbs, and the 
means of curing diseases. These ceremonies are supposed 
to have been prescribed in Sacred Books, which they kept 
secret. They were a very industrious people, principally 
employed as husbandmen and shepherds. They had an 
aversion to commerce, as tending to produce covetousness. 
No member of their community was allowed to manufac- 
ture military weapons, or deadly instruments of any kind. 
They totally disapproved of war, inculcated forgiveness of 
injuries, and expected the Messiah would come as a Prince 
of Peace, to establish righteousness upon the earth. They 
were remarkable for simplicity and directness of speech, and 
for conscientious regard to truth ; insomuch that the simple 
yea and nay of an Essene was considered more reliable 
than the oaths of most men. They had an extreme aver- 
sion to oaths, as indicating a distrust, which ought not to 
exist among honest men. They were accustomed to say : 
"He who cannot be believed without swearing, is already 
condemned." The only occasion on which they allowed 
an oath to be used, was when a new member was admitted 
among them, with very solemn ceremonies. Their doc- 
trines of morality might be comprised under two heads : 
reverence toward God, and love toward men. They said 
the Creator made all mankind equal, and it should be the 
effort of good men to restore that original state of things. 
They abhorred slavery, would have no class of servants 
among them, and made it a rule to wait upon each other 
mutually. They acknowledged no dominion, and would 
call no man master. They inculcated obedience to the 
civil authorities, but discountenanced participation in poli- 
tics, as fatal to holiness. All the Jewish sects practised 
ablution, but none so frequently and carefully as the Es- 
senes. Their diet was exceedingly simple, and in all their 
arrangements they moved with the regularity of clock- 
work. Therefore they were very healthy, and generally 
lived to a great age. They would die rather than taste of 
Vol. II.— 6* 


food prepared by any person not of their own sect ; prob« 
ably from fear of the admixture of some articles which they 
deemed unholy. They admitted no women among them, 
and, contrary to the prevailing Jewish opinions, considered 
strict celibacy essential to holiness. They abjured all 
amusements, all elegancies, all pleasures of the senses. 
They generally dressed in white, and their garments were 
very plain. There was in all respects a perfect community 
of goods. They appointed a presiding elder, whose regu- 
lations they agreed to obey, but deeds of kindness each one 
was left to perform according to his own pleasure. They 
uttered no words, but those of prayer, before the rising of 
the sun. When that luminary appeared above the hori- 
zon, they turned toward the east and chanted ancient 
hymns, handed down by their sect, invoking the blessings 
of interior illumination, and purporting that his rays ought 
not to fall on anything impure. Five succeeding hours 
were employed in their various occupations. Then they 
bathed, put on clean white garments, and went into the 
dining-room, where each received his portion of food from 
the servitor in silence. They drank water only, and ate 
only bread and one kind of fruit, or vegetables. They 
supped in the same manner. A prayer was offered at the 
beginning and end of every meal. They spoke low, and 
were always grave and quiet in their manners. Each com- 
munity was divided into four classes, according to the time 
they had lived under their regulations. If any of the 
seniors touched one of the newer members of the society, 
they purified themselves by ablution, as they were all ac- 
customed to do when they touched any of the Gentile 
nations. Every Sabbath, they assembled in their syna- 
gogue, and the younger brethren listened, while elders in- 
terpreted the Law and the Prophets. They observed the 
day with even greater strictness than any other Jews ; in- 
somuch, that they would not even remove a vessel, or kin- 
dle a fire. They revered the name of Moses next to that 
of God, and he who blasphemed it was punished with death. 
They fulfilled the obligation of Jewish citizens by sending 

jews. 67 

presents to the temple at Jerusalem, but they never went 
there to worship; probably on account of some usages 
which they supposed would render them impure. Some 
say they never offered animal sacrifices ; but this is not 
certain. Sadducees valued only the words of the Law. 
Pharisees said it had a literal meaning and a spiritual sense, 
both of which were worthy of reverence. Essenes attached 
no value to the literal sense, which they said was devoid 
of all power ; but the things expressed by the words were 
symbols of holy and celestial ideas. They studied this al- 
legorical meaning very devoutly. They had also Sacred 
Books which they kept secret, from which it is said they 
learned certain mysterious methods of curing diseases, in- 
terpreting dreams, and foretelling future events. The use 
made of these volumes seems to indicate a Chaldean origin. 
Josephus says : " Some of this sect take it upon them to 
foretell things to come ; being bred up from their child- 
hood in the study of their Sacred Books, and the sayings 
of the Prophets, and also in the use of various purifications 
to qualify them for it ; and it is very seldom found that 
they fail in what they foretell." " Many of the Essenes 
have, by their excellent virtues, been thought worthy of 
this knowledge of divine revelations." 

They differed essentially from other Jews in their ideas 
concerning the soul. They believed that it had pre-existed 
in some high ethereal spheres, had been fatally attracted 
towards this earth, and drawn down into a material body, 
in which it must be imprisoned till released by death. 
They did not agree with Pharisees in their idea that God 
punished and rewarded both the body and the soul. They 
regarded the body as a mere mass of matter, a temporary 
prison, and considered the soul alone worthy to be suscep- 
tible of rewards or punishments. They denied the resur- 
rection of the body, deeming that the soul would be 
rendered impure by reunion with it They believed that 
souls who had lived worthily, were conducted after death 
to abodes of Paradise, where the sunlight was genial, mild 
'breezes fanned the atmosphere, and everything contributed 


to produce indescribable delight. Bad souls were carried 
to dark places resounding with never-ceasing lamentations. 
They believed that God employed successive gradations of 
Spirits as mediators between him and the souls of men, and 
that he foreordained all the events of human life, even the 
smallest. Josephus says : " The Essenes affirm that God's 
decree governs all things ; and that nothing befalls man but 
what is according to its determination." They attached 
mystical significance to numbers, and had peculiar respect 
for the number seven. 

They received many boys among them for education, 
and grown persons weary of life often joined them. When 
any person applied for admission, he was required to pass 
one year out of the society, under a system of preparatory 
discipline. If he conformed strictly to all their rules of 
temperance and chastity, he was admitted within the com- 
munity, after having gone through certain ceremonial puri- 
fications by water. But he was still required to prove his 
constancy by two years of regular attendance on all their 
observances, before he was admitted to full membership. 
If he passed through this ordeal satisfactorily, he lodged 
his whole property in the common treasury, and became 
one of the brethren, after taking a very solemn oath that 
he would observe all their rules ; that he would never con- 
ceal anything from his fellow members; that he would 
obey the magistrates, because no one ever arrived at power 
without permission of God ; that he would act with piety 
toward God, and justice toward men ; be scrupulous in 
speaking the truth ; do no harm to any one, either of his 
own accord, or by command of others ; guard the secresy 
of their Sacred Books, and never divulge their Mysteries, 
or the names of their Angels, not even to save his life. If 
a member committed any heinous offence, they expelled 
him from the society ; and this was a terrible punishment, 
unless he broke his oath not to taste food prepared by any 
out of their own sect. If the offender showed himself ready 
to risk death, rather than violate his oath, they sometimes 
received him back. 

jews. 69 

Pliny the Elder describes the Essenes as " the only sort 
of men who live without money, and without women, sub- 
sisting on the fruit of the palm tree ; and in this above all 
the world to be admired. They are daily supplied by the 
resort of new comers, equal to those they lose ; many flock- 
ing to them whom ill fortune has made weary of the world, 
and forced to take shelter in their institutions. Thus, for 
several thousands of years this people is perpetually prop- 
agated, without any being born among them ; so fruitful 
to them is the repentance of others as to their past lives." 

They probably divided into sects, some of whom were 
less rigid than the original founders. Among one class 
of them marriage was allowed for the perpetuation of 
the species, though restrained by very strict regulations. 
They did not all live in solitary places; for Josephus 
speaks of them as scattered through towns and villages in 
his time, and sometimes consenting to serve as magistrates. 
When they travelled, they never took money, or change 
of garments ; but when they entered a town, they inquired 
who in it was an Essene, and with him they abode. Jose- 
phus says : "In every city some of them dwell. They give 
reception to all travellers of their sect, who eat and drink 
with them as freely as of their own ; going in unto them, 
though they never saw them before, in the same manner 
as if they had been of long acquaintance. Therefore, when 
they take a journey, they carry nothing with them, but 
arms for defence against thieves. In every city, they have 
one principal person of their society appointed procurator, 
to take care of all strangers of their sect, and provide them 
with whatever clothes or other necessaries they may be in 
want of They never change their shoes or garments, till 
they are worn out and unfit for further use. They neither 
sell or buy anything among themselves, but every one 
gives of that which he hath to him that wanteth ; and on 
like occasions, receives whatsoever the other hath that he 
Btands in need of." 

He computes their numbers in his time at about four 
thousand. Their inoffensive lives, their proverbial verac- 


ity, their charity to the poor, and obedience to government, 
secured them from molestation, while sects who aimed at 
political power were in perpetual conflict. But dnriug the 
war with the Romans, the Essenes, in common with other 
Jews, suffered much. Josephus says : " In these trials, 
they gave abundant evidence what great souls they pos- 
sessed. Although they were burnt, and torn to pieces, and 
went through all kinds of torment, that they might be 
forced either to blaspheme Moses, or to eat what was for- 
bidden, yet could they not be made to do either ; or once 
to flatter their tormentors, or shed a tear. They smiled in 
their pains, and cheerfully resigned their souls, believing 
they would live forever." 

There were similar associations of Jews in Egypt, called 
Therapeutas. The name is generally supposed to be de- 
rived from a Greek word signifying to heal. They were 
celebrated for medicinal knowledge of roots and herbs, 
and were much resorted to for the cure of diseases. Philo 
speaks of them as having been established long before his 
time. He supposed them to be a branch of the Essenes ; 
but they were a distinct sect in many particulars, and it 
seems more likely that they were both derived from some 
common and ancient origin. Philo, speaking of such 
associations for religious meditation, says : " In many parts 
of the habitable earth such a class of people exists ; for it 
is fitting that both Greeks and barbarians should share in 
the absolute good." The constant intercourse between 
India and Alexandria renders it highly probable that 
Philo had heard of the numerous associations of devotees 
among Hindoos and Buddhists. When Pliny speaks of 
the Essenes as having existed for thousands of years, it 
seems likely that he included with them other similar but 
more ancient associations. It has been already stated in 
the chapter on Egypt, that Grecian writers alluded to 
bands of Gymnosophists, or naked philosophers, on the 
banks of the Nile ; by which they doubtless meant devo- 
tees, who carried their asceticism so far as to discard 

JEWS. 71 

The Thcrapeutos were far less practical than the indus- 
trious Essenes. They spent nearly all their time in silent 
meditation and inward prayer. People who joined them 
transferred their property to relatives, or friends, took a 
vow of perpetual chastity and poverty, withdrew into 
solitary places, and devoted themselves entirely to contem- 
plation on divine things. Women who had taken similar 
vows were admitted among them ; but they were generally 
of an advanced age. A large company of them lived near 
Lake Moeris, about one hundred and twenty miles from 
Alexandria. An enclosure separated them from other 
inhabitants of the country. Each member had a little 
garden and a small cell, merely sufficient for shelter, in- 
cluding a private recess or closet, for devotional purposes. 
They performed no more labour than was necessary to 
furnish their very simple means of subsistence. They 
rejected slavery, as a thing discordant with the harmony 
of God's laws. They taught that men were created equal, 
and they practically illustrated it by serving one another. 
Officers were appointed to preside over various depart- 
ments of the association. There were no external distinc- 
tions of rank, but the spiritually elder taught and guided 
the spiritually younger. They prayed every morning and 
evening. At the rising of the sun, they turned toward 
the east and prayed that God would give unto the day 
that true blessing whereby their minds might become illu- 
minated with heavenly light. When the sun set, they 
prayed that during the hours of darkness, when the soul 
was disburdened of the senses, and of all external things, 
it might be able to retire within itself, and receive inte- 
rior revelations of divine truth. They ate nothing until 
evening ; for, regarding the body a as prison, they were 
ashamed to give it sustenance, and thereby acknowledge 
the necessities of the senses, in the presence of sunlight. 
Their diet was simply bread and water. Some of them, 
who aimed at a high degree of holiness, tasted food only 
once in three, or even six days. They wore only one 
' linen garment in summer, to which they added a mantle 


in winter. They passed six days of the week in solitude, 
composing hymns and psalms, studying the Law and the 
Prophets, and books written by elders of their sect, in 
which the Scriptures were allegorically interpreted. They 
believed that Hebrew Sacred Writings contained a body 
and a soul ; the literal words being the body, and the 
spiritual sense the internal life. They offered no sacrifices ; 
saying that a serious and devout mind was the sacrifice 
most acceptable to God. On the Jewish Sabbath, they all 
met together in the synagogue ; the men and women being 
separated by a wall five or six feet high. They took their 
places according to seniority ; each one sitting with his 
right hand on his breast, and the left at his side. One of 
the elders quietly stepped forward and uttered a grave 
discourse, usually an explanation of spiritual allegories. 
~No one was allowed to whisper, or make the least noisei 
If they felt satisfaction while listening, they sometimes 
signified it by a low murmur of applause, when he fin- 
ished. Then the speaker sang a hymn of praise, in the 
last verse of which all joined in chorus. The number 
seven being peculiarly sacred in their estimation, they held 
a solemn Sabbath Festival every seven weeks, when they 
all assembled, clothed in white garments. When they 
were ranged in order, all lifted up their hands in prayer 
for a blessing on the feast. Afterward they reclined on 
rush mats, leaning on their elbows, and preserving pro- 
found silence, while some elder slowly and distinctly ex- 
pounded the Scriptures allegorically. When the speaker 
concluded, he began to sing, either some ancient psalm, or 
a new one composed by himself. The whole assembly 
joined in the chorus ; and Philo says the high voices of 
the women and the deep tones of the men made a very 
pleasant concert. Young men, appointed for the purpose, 
brought in tables and spread a feast, consisting of leavened 
bread, salt, hyssop, and water. When they had eaten and 
returned thanks, a space was cleared in the middle of the 
hall ; the men and women ranged themselves in two sepa- 
rate choirs, each conducted by the best singer. They sang 

jews. 73 

hymns of thanksgiving, sometimes in concert, sometimes 
in responses; expressing the spirit of the song by motion 
of their hands. This being finished, they all joined in a 
general dance, which continued till the sun rose. Then, 
facing the east, they uttered the usual prayer that the day 
might be blessed with spiritual illumination, and each re- 
tired to his cell to resume the customary routine of his life. 
This dance and choral hymn is said to have been in com- 
memoration of the passage of the Israelites through the 
Red Sea, and Miriam's song of rejoicing. But as they 
were accustomed to give spiritual significance to all the 
historical facts of Scripture, it is deemed likely that they 
also considered it symbolical of the soul's deliverance from 
the bondage of the senses. 

Foreign theories mixed with the Jewish religion under 
another form, called the Cabala, from a Hebrew word, 
which means Tradition. It has already been said that all 
novelties were introduced as oral traditions from Moses; 
his sanction being absolutely necessary for the reception 
of ideas among a people who devoutly believed that God 
had revealed to him a knowledge of all truth. There has 
been much learned discussion concerning the source of the 
Cabalistic doctrines, and the date of their introduction 
into Palestine. The very obvious resemblance to Persian 
theories seems to indicate that they had their origin during 
the Babylonian exile. 

There is positive historical trace of them about one hun- 
dred years before Christ, when a learned Jewish Rabbi, 
who had been banished to Alexandria for some political 
offence, was recalled to Palestine, and brought a number 
of disciples with him. They introduced the science of the 
Cabala into their fatherland, under the form of oral tradi- 
tions, and allegorical interpretation of the Sacred Books ; 
an arrangement which allowed some freedom to the mind, 
without the necessity of acknowledging a departure from 
ancient laws. Marvellous stories were told concerning the 
origin and preservation of this mysterious doctrine. They 
said while Adam was in Paradise, the angel Rasiel brought 
Vol. II.— 7 d 


him a book filled with heavenly wisdom. Angels came 
down and begged to look into it ; but Adam refused, say- 
ing it was intrusted to him alone. After the Fall, this book 
was carried back to heaven ; but Adam obtained it again, 
by prayers and tears, and left it as a legacy to his son Seth. 
In the degenerate age preceding the Deluge, the book was 
lost, and its mysteries nearly forgotten. They were restored 
to Abraham by special revelation from heaven, and he 
wrote them in the book Jezirah, concerning the Creation. 
Being again lost, it was again repeated by angels to Moses, 
during his retirement on Mount Sinai. It was again lost 
during the captivity in Babylon, and was again revealed 
to Ezra ; since whose time it had been successively handed 
down by Children of Light. 

According to Cabalistic doctrine, God was pure uncrea- 
ted Light, existing by the necessity of its own nature, fill- 
ing the immensity of space, and containing within itself the 
principles of life and motion. They called this Eternal 
Source En-Soph, The Infinite. The souls of all things 
were portions of him, and had always existed in him. All 
forms of being were merely manifestations of his eternal, 
indwelling ideas. The Wisdom of the Eternal they sup- 
posed to be a feminine deity, whom Hellenistic Jews named 
Sophia. The first emanation from them was Adam Kadman, 
the First Adam. Cabalistic writers called him " The First 
Begotten Son of God;" " The Express Image of God;' 7 
" The Primitive Man ;" " The Creator and Preserver, by 
whom all things were produced and disposed ;" " The An- 
imating Principle of the World, having the three forces of 
Divinity within him, Light, Spirit, and Life, which he gives 
out, as he has received ;" " The Mediator and Intercessor 
with God for the sins of the world." Some of them sup- 
posed he had dwelt in this world in the form of the earthly 
Adam, and of king David ; and that he would again appear 
as the Messiah. The letters in the name were adduced as 
proof. They said A stood for Adam, D for David, and M 
for Messiah. 

From Adam Kadman were evolved ten Spirits, called 

jews. 75 

Sephiroth, or Splendours. Next, four worlds, or degrees 
of being ; the relative perfection of which was according 
to comparative distance from the abode of Primeval Light ; 
everything in each world being a reflection of the ideas 
pre-existing in the. mind of the angel who formed it, and 
consequently partaking of his character. The inhabitants 
of the first had ethereal, radiant forms, and existed without 
propagation. In the second, they had aerial forms, of sur- 
passing beauty. In the third, they had immaterial forms, 
but less perfect. The fourth was our world of material 
bodies, subject to dissolution, and of both sexes. 

Planets and Stars were animated by Spirits, endowed 
with intelligence and power of volition. They presided 
over countries, animals, plants, and minerals, and controlled 
all the forces of nature. They took an interest in human 
affairs, and could communicate to men a knowledge of 
future events. One of the most conspicuous of these an- 
gelic agents was called Metraton, the Mediator, who kept 
record of the good deeds of men. They supposed it was 
he who led the Israelites through the wilderness, and wres- 
tled with Jacob. They made a mystery of his name, be- 
cause the Hebrew letters forming Metraton and Shadai, if 
used as numerals, both signified three hundred and four- 
teen. Lower orders of Spirits were jealous of the high and 
pure Intelligences above them, and wished to become their 
equals. They constantly contended with them, strove to 
drag them downward, and to frustrate all their good pur- 
poses. They seduced Adam in the garden of Eden, and 
they were always enticing men to sin. They produced dis- 
eases, and provoked wars. Their chief was BeliaL Each 
soul had two attendant Spirits, produced at the same time 
with itself; one good, the other evil. These two accom- 
panied every mortal, from birth to death. One guarded 
him, and the other tempted him. They knew all his 
thoughts and' actio ns t and after death they testified concern- 
ing thenx Man was a three-fold being, having a rational soul, 
a sensitive soul, and a material body. The rational portion 
was endowed with power to contemplate things above it, 


and could thus raise itself to the influence of superior Spir- 
its. Souls rendered perfect by meditation,* prayer, and 
virtue, when freed from the encumbrance of the body r 
would ascend above the angels, and be united with En- 
Soph. Those less holy would dwell with good Spirits, in 
some of their resplendent realms of light. The impure 
must descend to earth again,, to expiate their sins, and pass 
through new probations. 

Cabalists supposed that all souls pre-existed in Adam, the 
game as everything in the universe pre-existed in the mind 
of God ; therefore when Adam sinned all human souls be- 
came corrupted j and the inherent imperfection thus de- 
derived became an inlet for Evil Spirits. 

When bad Spirits had brought the earth into the great- 
est disorder, and all seemed hastening to ruin, the Creator 
himself would come to redeem it. He would deliver Spir- 
its, who had been dragged down and held captive by Mat- 
ter ; he would rekindle the divine light within men, and 
restore the primeval harmony of the universe. The most 
wicked Spirits had always been more or less attracted 
toward light • they would finally yield entirely to this at- 
traction, and all would return to the Divine Source, whose 
splendour fills the universe. 

The Cabalists had an ancient volume called Zohar, or 
the Book of Light. It is said to contain the following 
statement : " There are gods united in one, and yet they 
are three ; and being three, they are only one. They form 
one by the most absolute union." Cabalistic writings 
abound with devout and rapturous expressions concerning 
this holy and mysterious Three^ to each of which they as- 
cribe personal actions, and divine properties. Those ini- 
tiated into their mysteries they were accustomed to call 
Children of Light. 

These doctrines were committed to writing in the second 
century of our era. A portion of them contained allegori- 
cal explanations of the Hebrew Sacred Books, constructing 
therefrom a system of spiritual philosophy. Another por- 
tion taught the art of curing diseases and performing mira- 

;tews. 77 

sles, by tlie application of divine names, sentences from 
Sacred Writings, and certain symbolical arrangements of 
letters and words. Jews of all classes supposed that mirac- 
ulous power resided in the name of Jehovah. The charac- 
ters which represented that name were inscribed only in the 
holiest recess of their temple ; and it was a popular idea 
that any person who obtained possession of them might 
thereby work miracles. The Cabalists, who attached mys- 
terious significance to numbers, reckoned seventy-two 
names of the Deity, from which, by different arrangements 
in sevens, they produced seven hundred and twenty. The 
principal of these they disposed in a six-pointed star, called 
The Shield of David. They believed this would extinguish 
fires, preserve people from wounds and diseases, and per- 
form many other miracles. All these things, and a vast 
many more of similar character, they contrived to reconcile 
to the Law of Moses, oral or written, to which they believed 
all the world would be finally converted, when their Mes- 
siah came to reign on earth. 

It has been already said that educated Jews in Alexan- 
dria enlarged for themselves the old intellectual boundaries 
of Palestine, and were much attracted toward Grecian 
philosophy. The Cabalists mixed portions of it with the 
system of Zoroaster. But there was also a school of 
Hellenistic Jews, who infused the entire system of Plato 
into the old Hebrew religion. The Law of Moses, either 
written or traditionary, was believed to be the only source 
of truth ; and this opinion was too firmly established to be 
braved with impunity by young minds captivated with 
foreign theories. Therefore, the ideas of Plato were trans- 
ferred to Moses, as those of Zoroaster had been, under the 
elastic veil of allegorical interpretation. It would be unjust 
to suppose this was the result of timidity alone. Doubt- 
less the assumption was often made with reverential sin- 
cerity ; since men easily find in Sacred Writings whatever 
they are previously convinced ought to be there. 

Aristobulus, an Alexandrian Jew, who lived one hun- 
' dred and seventy years before Christ, was anxious to 
Vol. II.— 7* 


defend his nation against the .charge, frequently brought 
by Grecians and Eomans, that the Hebrews were a bar- 
barous people, who had made small progress in philosophy 
or literature. To prove this assertion untrue, he affirmed 
that all Plato's ideas were familiar to Moses ; and he pro- 
fessed to find them all in his writings, by means of an 
allegorical system of interpretation. Grecians who entered 
into controversy with him were surprised and silenced 
by his thus producing, from Hebrew Sacred Books, pre- 
cisely the ideas of their own best writers. But the zeal 
of Aristobulus carried him still farther. He himself com- 
posed verses under the names of Orpheus, Homer, and 
Hesiod, and filled them with Jewish ideas ; thus en- 
deavouring to prove Hebrew superiority both by reference 
to their own Scriptures, and to the sacred literature of 
other nations. In his writings, and in those of later 
Hellenistic Jews, there is manifested a tendency to re- 
present as persons what Plato seems to have intended 
merely as attributes of the Divine Being. He calls the first 
emanation. from God " The Second Cause ;" " The Wisdom 
of God f " The Father of Lights." Other Jewish writers 
were accustomed to make a distinction between "Jehovah; 
The Word of Jehovah ; and the Habitation of Jehovah." 
Before the time of Aristobulus, there were Jewish writers, 
who covertly described the Divine Word as the author of 
all wisdom, teaching men what they ought to be. Philo, 
a celebrated Jewish Platonist, born thirty or forty years 
before Christ, calls the Logos, or Word, " The most ancient 
Son of God ;" "a Second God ;" whom he represents as cre- 
ating all things, according to patterns given him by the Father. 
A Jew named Dositheus devoted himself to solitude and 
abstinence, and practised many austerities. He tried to 
convince his countrymen that he was the promised Messiah. 
Failing in this, he went over to the Samaritans, and en- 
deavoured to persuade them he was the Prophet promised 
by Moses, who they expected would come and reveal all 
things. He had followers for a time; but little is known 
of his doctrines. 

jews. 79 

One of the most remarkable men of those times was John 
jhe son of Zacharias, who appeared among the Jews as a 
religious teacher of the people. He was a Nazarite, vowed 
to the service of the Lord before he was born. His parents 
both belonged to the priestly house of Aaron. While his 
father was ministering in the temple, we are told the angel 
Gabriel appeared to him and foretold that he should have 
a son, who would "be filled with the Holy Spirit, even 
from his mother's womb, and turn many of the children 
of Israel to the Lord their God." Accordingly, when the 
priest's wife became pregnant, she hid herself, as was cus- 
tomary for the mother of a Nazarite. Soon after he was 
born, his father " was filled with the Holy Ghost, and pro- 
phesied: Thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the 
Highest ; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to 
prepare his way." He was never allowed to taste wine or 
strong drink. When he grew to manhood, he wore hair 
garments, tied with a leather girdle, and "fed on locusts 
and wild honey." He is represented as living in the 
wilderness ; but we are not informed whether he was an 
anchorite, or a member of some such association as the 
Essenes. He called upon both Sadducees and Pharisees 
to reform ; exhorted the tax gatherers to be just in their 
dealings; the soldiers to refrain from robbery and violence; 
and the people universally to impart liberally of their sub- 
stance to the poor. Especially he urged men to repent of 
their sins speedily, because " the kingdom of heaven was 
at hand ;" a phrase which to Jewish ears signified the im- 
mediate advent of the Messiah. This idea, always so 
interesting to the people, attracted crowds to listen to his 
preaching. It is recorded that "all the people counted 
him as a prophet;" that "all the land of Judea, and they 
of Jerusalem, went out unto him in the wilderness, and 
were baptized in the river Jordan, confessing their sins ;" 
that " all men mused in their hearts whether he were the 
Messiah or not." It was the general conclusion that he 
was either the Messiah, or the prophet Elijah, who was to 
precede his coming, or Jeremiah, who was to come with 


him, and show where he had hidden the Ark and the Tab« 
ernacle. His influence over the multitude was so great, 
that the rulers feared to deny he was a great prophet, lest 
the people should stone them. The civil authorities were 
alarmed, lest rebellion against the government should be 
concealed under these prophecies of a new kingdom about 
to be established. They sent a deputation to inquire of 
him who he professed to be. He declared that he was not 
the Messiah. When they asked: "Art thou Elias? he 
answered No. Art thou that prophet ? [meaning Jeremiah] 
he answered No. I am the voice of one crying in the 
wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord." 

John was surnamed the Baptist, because he required his 
disciples to be immersed in water. All Asiatic nations 
attributed sacredness to water, and all practised ablutions 
as an important part of their religion. Moses ordained 
ablutions ; and foreign proselytes, who were received into 
full communion with the Hebrews, were always admitted 
by circumcision and baptism also. The Jews do not seem 
to have had holy rivers, whose waters were deemed pecu- 
liarly efficacious, as was the case with Hindoos, Egyptians, 
and Persians. But Elisha ordered Naaman to wash seven 
times in the river Jordan, in order to be cleansed of his 
leprosy ; and we are told there was a pool in Jerusalem, 
called Bethesda, resorted to by great multitudes of the 
lame, the blind, and the withered, who at certain seasons 
of the year went into it and were cured of their diseases. 
The popular belief was, that an angel went down into the 
pool, stirred up the water, and imparted to it miraculous 
power of healing. From time immemorial, water was con- 
sidered typical of purification from sins of the soul, as it 
was an external means of cleansing the body. The pecu- 
liarity of John, which gave him the surname of Baptist, 
seems to have been that he required not merely Gentile 
proselytes, but Jews also, to be baptized, in token of cleans- 
ing from former sins, and the purity of a renewed life, in 
preparation for the Messiah's ki ngdom. To the multitudes, 
who were led into the Jordan by him, he preached a still 

JEWS. 81 

higher baptism. Among Hindoos, Chaldeans, Persians, 
and Syrians, fire was deemed a type of more thorough 
purification than water ; for which reason, they passed their 
children through fire, and devotees sometimes burned 
themselves to death, as the readiest means of ascending to 
the highest paradise. In allusion to this prevailing idea, 
John said : "I indeed baptize you with water ; but he who 
cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit 
and with fire." This prophet of the people was beheaded 
by order of Herod, on account of the boldness of his rebukes 
to that monarch, who was doubtless jealous concerning the 
new kingdom, which he predicted would come so speedily. 
While he was preaching, a new sect was starting into 
existence. His mother's cousin, named Mary, had married 
Joseph, a carpenter, described as a just man, and a lineal 
descendant from King David. Mary gave birth to a son, 
whose Hebrew name was Joshua, which Jews who spoke 
the Greek language called Jesus. It is recorded that the 
angel Gabriel appeared to her, and announced that the 
child about to be born should be called the u Son of the 
Highest;" that "God would give him the throne of his 
father David, and he should reign over the house of Jacob 
for ever." An angel likewise appeared to Joseph in a 
dream, and told him that the child had no earthly father, 
but was conceived of the Holy Spirit. Mary soon after 
went up "into the hill country," to visit her cousin Eliza- 
beth, and inform her of these glad tidings ; and when they 
met, the unborn babe of Elizabeth recognized the divine 
presence of the promised Messiah, and "leaped for joy." 
When Jesus was born, at Bethlehem in Judea, a chorus of 
angels in the air sang : " Glory to God in the highest, and 
on earth peace and good will to men." It is not known 
with certainty when this great event happened, but it is 
generally supposed to have been in the twelfth year of 
Augustus Caesar. The season of the year is matter of con- 
jecture. It is recorded that his birth took place at the 
time when "all the people went to be taxed, every one into 
*his own city ;" and that is said to have been in the Spring. 


The statement that shepherds were watching their flocks 
in the open air all night indicates that the weather was mild. 
So great was the crowd going to Bethlehem to pay taxes to 
the Roman government, that there was no room at the 
inn for Joseph and Mary, and her babe, when born was 
laid in a manger. It was a common belief among the 
Rabbins that at the time of the Messiah's birth a new Star 
would appear in the East, and remain a long time visible. 
This was partly owing to the prevailing idea that stars 
were always forerunners of great events, and partly to 
Balaam's prophecy : " There shall come a star out of 
Jacob." When Jesus was born, it is stated that wise men 
came from the East and inquired : " Where is he that is 
born King of the Jews ? For we have seen his star in the 
east, and have come to worship him." The star went be- 
fore them and guided them on their travels, and when it 
came to the manger, it stood still. Whereupon, "they re- 
joiced with exceeding joy ; and when they saw the young 
child, they fell down and worshipped him, and presented 
unto him gifts ; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh." 

The social condition of Joseph and Mary is indicated by 
the fact that she offered "turtle doves and young pigeons;" 
for these were the customary offerings of the poor. As 
soon as the babe was brought into the temple, Simeon the 
prophet declared : " This child is set for the fall and rising 
again of many in Israel;" and Anna, a prophetess, like- 
wise "spake of him to all that looked for redemption in 
Jerusalem." These prophecies of a wonderful destiny for 
the infant are said to have produced the same effect as did 
similar predictions concerning Crishna in Hindostan, and 
Moses in Egypt. When Herod the king heard of them, 
he ordered that all the young children in Bethlehem, and 
the neighbourhood thereof, should be slain. This piece of 
extraordinary and high-handed tyranny is mentioned only 
in the second chapter of a brief biography of Jesus, written 
by one of his disciples, named Matthew. It does not 
appear that it caused any appeal to the justice of the 
Roman government. Josephus, though he wrote much 

jews. 83 

concerning Herod, and seems very willing to record his 
crimes, appears not to have been aware of the transaction ; 
and no cotemporary history makes any allusion to it. 

When Jesus was twelve years old, he went up to Jeru- 
salem with Joseph and Mary, to the feast of the Passover. 
He lingered after they had departed, and when they re- 
turned to seek for him, they found him in the temple, list- 
ening to learned expounders of the Law, and asking them 
questions. " And all that heard him were astonished at 
his understanding and answers." He returned with his 
mother, and nothing further is recorded of him till he ap- 
peared as a public teacher at thirty years of age. During 
the interim, it is supposed he worked with Joseph at his 
trade, for one of his biographers, named Mark, has re- 
corded, that when he taught in the synagogue of his native 
city, the people were surprised, and inquired : "Is not this 
the carpenter ? Whence has this man these things ? And 
what wisdom is this which is given unto him ?" 

Before entering upon his public ministry, he went to his 
kinsman, John, to be baptized by him in the river Jordan. 
And John said to him : " I have need to be baptized of 
thee, and comest thou to me V As he went up out of the 
water, John saw the Holy Spirit descending upon him, in the 
form of a dove, and heard a voice from Heaven, saying : 
" This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 
It is to be inferred, from the narrative that none of the 
assembled multitude heard the voice, for no mention is 
made of any sensation produced by it. Up to this period, 
Jesus and his devout kinsman seem to have had little per- 
sonal knowledge of each other. Though an angel from 
heaven had appeared to both their parents, and announced 
that one of the children would be the promised Messiah, 
and the other the forerunner to prepare the way before 
him, John did' not recognize him, as he did before either 
of them were born. He says: " I knew him not : but he 
that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, 
Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and re- 
maining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the 


Holv Ghost. And I saw, and bare record, that this is the 
Son of God." In consequence of this declaration, two of 
John's disciples followed Jesus, and became his disciples, 
saying: "We have found the Messiah." But even after 
the miracle at the baptism, John seems to have been doubt- 
ful concerning the claims of Jesus ; for when he heard of 
his restoring a dead man to life, he sent two of his disciples 
to inquire of him : " Art thou he that should come ? or look 
we for another ?" 

John had expressly declared of himself that he was not 
Elias. But Jesus said of him: " Yerily, among them that 
are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than 
John the Baptist. And this is Elias, which was to come." 

It is recorded that Jesus made preparation for his min- 
istry by retiring to a solitary place to fast and pray, ac- 
cording to the general Asiatic custom of those who devoted 
themselves to a religious mission. During the forty days 
thus spent, his biographers state that the devil appeared to 
him, and tried in vain to tempt him with an offer of all the 
kingdoms of the world, if he would worship him. 

"What spiritual teaching, or companionship, he had for 
the eighteen years, during which history is silent concern- 
ing him, is, of course, a matter of conjecture. He probably 
received the usual education of Jewish children, which was 
confined to expositions of their own laws, prophecies, and 
traditions. He is once mentioned as writing on the ground, 
but never as using parchment. His opinion of the Tra- 
ditionary Law is clearly implied by his accusing the Rab- 
bins of " making the commandments of God of no effect 
by their traditions." He reproved, with great earnestness, 
the pride and scepticism of the Sadducees, and the hypo- 
critical sanctity of the Pharisees ; but he uttered no rebuke 
that could be fitly applied to the Essenes. From this cir- 
cumstance, and many strong points of resemblance between 
his teaching and theirs, some have conjectured that he knew 
and favoured that sect ; but there is no historical proof tc 
sustain the supposition. He appears to have conformed tc 
the established religion of his country, as did Jews of all 

jews. 85 

sects and opinions. He was circumcised at eight days old.. 
He attended the synagogues, and observed the Passover. 
He often quoted the Law and the Prophets, and constantly 
averred that he did not come to do them away, but only to 
fulfil them. He severely rebuked the Pharisees for con- 
sidering tithes of anise and cumin more important than 
deeds of justice and mercy, and for supposing that dona- 
tions to the temple could absolve them from filial duties. 
But he expressed no disapprobation of customary offer- 
ings; merely instructing his disciples in what frame of 
mind they should carry their gifts to the altar. 

In the early part of his mission, he seems to have con- 
sidered himself a prophet to the Jews only. When he sent 
his twelve disciples forth to preach, he commanded them, 
saying : " Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any 
city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the 
lost sheep of the house of Israel." When a Greek woman, 
" a Syro-Phcenician by nation," besought him to heal her 
daughter, he replied : "I am not sent but unto the lost 
sheep of the house of Israel." Jews had so long been in 
the habit of calling all the Gentile nations " doers " that the 
expression came to be synonymous with the word foreigner. 
When the woman persisted in her entreaties, he answered : 
"It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to 
dogs." She replied : " Truth, Lord ; yet the dogs eat of 
the crumbs which fall from their master's table." To this 
meek response, he rejoined : "0 woman, great is thy faith. 
"Be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was 
made whole from that very hour." The trusting humility 
of a Roman centurion impressed him so deeply, that he re- 
marked to those around him, he had never found any faith 
equal to it among his own nation. The Jewish exclusive- 
ness indicated in his first directions to his Apostles does 
not appear again in any of the records of his words or 
actions. On the contrary, his parting injunction to them 
was : " Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to 
every creature." 

By example and precept he inculcated obedience to the 
Vol. II.— 8 


civil authorities. When enemies sought to entangle him, 
by asking whether it were right to pay taxes to the Roman 
government, he answered: "Give unto Caesar that which 
is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's." He taught 
his disciples not to be called master, and to call no man 
on earth father, because all mankind were brethren, the 
children of one Father, who is in heaven. He himself 
washed their feet, in token that they ought to serve each 
other with all humility. The example he set up for their 
imitation was that of a little child. He often alluded to 
angels, and said that children had angels, who constantly 
saw "the face of their Father in heaven." He required 
purity of thought, as well as of deed. He taught that 
those who lived a holy life would rise from the dead in 
purified bodies, and become like the angels. He spoke of 
heaven as his "Father's house, containing many man- 
sions;" and of hell as a place where "the worm died not, 
and the fire was not quenched." His habits were not 
ascetic, like those of John the Baptist ; whose disciples 
came to him and said : " Why do we and the Pharisees 
fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?" He remarked to the 
Pharisees : " John came neither eating nor drinking, and 
ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of Man comes eating 
and drinking, and ye say, Behold a wine-bibber and a 
glutton, a friend of publicans and sinners." The Jews 
never had the ideas concerning marriage which character- 
ized the devotees of many Asiatic countries. Even their 
High Priest was allowed to marry, and it was considered 
both a misfortune and a disgrace not to have children. 
Jesus attended a marriage feast, and several of his imme- 
diate disciples are said to have been married men. Though 
the law of Moses allowed polygamy, it was not the general 
custom, and the Roman law prohibited it. Jesus gave no 
specific directions on the subject, but his views are indi- 
cated by the incidental remark: "A man shall forsake 
father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they 
twain shall be one flesh." Women were constantly atten- 
dant upon his teaching, and included within the circle of 

jews. 87 

his friendships. He taught his disciples that the provi- 
dence of God extended to the minutest things ; so that not 
a sparrow fell to the ground without his knowledge, and 
every hair of a man's head was numbered. He told them 
to take no money, or change of garments when they tra- 
velled; but in every city to abide with whoever was 
worthy. He that had two garments was bound to impart 
to him that had none ; and he who had food was to do the 
same. He charged them not to swear an oath, either by 
heaven, or by earth; but to let their communication be 
plain yea and nay. He taught the union of the soul with 
God by a life of holiness. He spoke of it as attained by 
himself, and attainable by his disciples. He said of him- 
self: "I and my Father are one;" and for his disciples he 
prayed : " As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, may 
they also be one in us, even as we are one." To them he 
said : "Be ye perfect, even as your Father, who is in 
heaven is perfect." He inculcated entire forgiveness of 
all insults and injuries, in these words: "If thy brother 
trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times 
in a day turn again to thee saying, I repent, thou shalt 
forgive him." "Do good to them that hate you, pray for 
them that persecute you." "If a man smite thee on thy 
right cheek, turn to him the other also." This heavenly 
doctrine of always, under all circumstances, returning 
benefits for injury, and of overcoming evil only by good- 
ness, was the distinguishing feature of his teaching, and 
elevated it far above all other systems of morality. The 
spirit of his precepts was as remote from Moses, as the 
times in which they lived ; in fact, it was in many respects 
totally incompatible with the teaching of the Law and the 
Prophets. Moses ordained that he who shed man's blood 
should have his own blood shed ; that he who knocked 
out another's tooth, should have his own knocked out; 
that he who destroyed another's eye, should have his own 
destroyed; "burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe 
for stripe." Samuel said the Lord commanded a whole 
tribe to be slaughtered, even the women and babes, for an 


offence committed by their ancestors five hundred years 
before. David prayed to Jehovah : " Consume mine ene- 
mies in wrath; consume them that they may not be." 
Jesus declared: " It was said by them of old time, An eye 
for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth ; but I say unto you, 
resist not evil. Ye have heard that it hath been said, 
Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy ; but 
I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse 
you, do good to them that hate you." When the maxims 
of Moses were quoted, he expressed the consciousness of 
distance between their systems, by saying: " Moses suffered 
it, because of the hardness of your hearts." 

Though educated in the midst of a people wedded to 
ceremonial routine, he was not scrupulous in the observ- 
ance of forms. Pious Pharisees were offended by his 
want of strictness in keeping the Sabbath. When they 
reproved his disciples for gathering corn on that day, he 
answered: "The Sabbath is made for man, not man for 
the Sabbath." When they rebuked them for not perform- 
ing the customary ablutions before they partook of food, 
he replied : " Laying aside the commandments of Grod, ye 
hold the traditions of men ; as the washing of pots and 
cups ; and many other such like things ye do. But rather 
give alms of such things as you have, and behold all 
things are clean unto you." 

His moral precepts were comprehensive and universal ; 
tending to raise the soul above external ceremonies and 
traditionary opinions and prejudices. Moses said: "Love 
your neighbour as yourself;" but he limited the term 
neighbour to the Hebrews only ; and the Jews of later 
time would have been more unwilling to bestow the epi- 
thet upon the Samaritans, than upon any other people. 
But when Jesus was asked : " Who is my neighbour?" he 
told the story of a good Samaritan, who acted the part of 
a kind neighbour to a wounded traveller, while priests 
and Levites passed by, indifferent to his distress. When 
a woman of Samaria alluded to the bitter controversy be- 
tween Jews and Samaritans, whether Mount Moriah or 

jews. 89 

Mount Gerizim was the place Jehovah had chosen for his 
worship, he replied: "The hour cometh when ye shall 
neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship 
the Father. God is a spirit : and they that worship him 
must worship him in spirit and in truth." He reproved 
the Pharisees for their long prayers, and taught his disci- 
ples this brief petition: "Our Father, who art in heaven, 
hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come ; thy will be 
done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our 
daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive 
those who trespass against us. Lead us not into tempta- 
tion, but deliver us from evil ; for thine is the kingdom, 
the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen." 

Many miracles are recorded of Jesus ; most of them of 
a highly beneficent character. He made the deaf to hear, 
the blind to see, and the lame to walk. He raised the 
dead, and on one occasion restored a friend to life, who 
had been four days in the grave. He stilled tempests by 
a word, walked on the sea, and changed water into wine. 
He knew secret thoughts, and told a Samaritan woman all 
the past events of her life. When the devil tempted him 
in the wilderness, angels came and ministered to him. He 
expelled devils from those who were insane or diseased, 
and the devils knew him and called him by name. On 
one of these occasions, the Evil Spirits, being driven from 
a man, entered into swine, which, according to the prevail- 
ing belief of those days, was their favourite habitation. 
The Pharisees, who, in common with nearly all the world 
at that period, believed in magic, said he could perform 
miracles, because he was in league with Beelzebub, the 
prince of devils. That the power of dispossessing demons 
was not peculiar to himself is indicated by the reply of 
Jesus: "If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do 
your children cast them out? Therefore, they shall be 
your judges." On another occasion, his disciples told him 
they had seen men casting out devils by using his name, 
and he charged them not to forbid their doing it. Two 
miracles recorded of Jesus seem not to be in harmony with 
Vol. II. —8* 


his character. " As lie returned to the city, he hungered. 
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, if 
haply he might find anything thereon ; and he found leaves 
only; for the time of figs was not yet. And he said unto 
it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And 
presently the fig tree withered away." When the tax- 
gatherers demanded tribute, he said to Peter: "Grothou 
to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first 
cometh ; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt 
find a piece of money ; that take, and give unto them for 
thee and me." 

His words, as well as his works, were generally charac- 
terized by exceeding tenderness ; but his rebukes to for- 
malists and hypocrites were bold and scorching. He called 
them " children of hell," who did the works of their " father 
the devil," and " whited sepulchres, full of all unclean- 
ness." Armed with a whip, he drove from the temple the 
herds of cattle, for sacrifice, from the sale of which the 
priests derived a large revenue ; and he indignantly over- 
turned the tables of those who demanded an exorbitant 
fee for changing the money that people brought to redeem 
their first-born. Such an uncompromising reformer of 
established usages, springing up from the unlearned classes, 
was of course offensive to priests and magistrates. The 
leading men in the community, and the great majority of 
the nation, had no faith in his claim to be the promised 
Messiah. Even his own family were not among his ad- 
herents. When they heard of his casting out devils, and 
of the crowds of people who followed him, " they went 
out to lay hold on him ; for they said, He is beside himself." 
" His mother and his brethren, standing without, sent unto 
him and called him." "For neither did his brethren be- 
lieve in him." When he went to preach in Nazareth, his 
native place, he encountered nothing but scepticism. He 
said unto them : "A prophet is not without honour, but 
in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his 
own house. And he could do there no mighty work, save 
that he laid his hand on a few sick folk and healed them." 

JEWS. 91 

His gentle and sympathizing nature led him to be the 
companion of the poor, the afflicted, and the sinful. To 
those who listened to his words, he said: "When thou 
makest a dinner, or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy 
brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; 
lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made 
to thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the 
maimed, the lame, the blind, and thou shalt be blessed; 
for they cannot recompense thee." His disciples were 
from the labouring classes, and "the common people heard 
him gladly." Officers who were sent to arrest him, as a 
disturber of the peace, stopped to listen to him, and re- 
turned with their mission unfulfilled, excusing themselves 
by saying: "Never man spake like this man." So great 
was his popularity with the people, that on one occasion, 
when they heard he was approaching Jerusalem, a multi- 
tude of them "took branches of palm trees, and went 
forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna ! Blessed is the 
King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord !" 

His instructions were purely oral, and he taught at all 
times, and in all places, wheresoever an audience gathered. 
Sometimes he addressed the people at prescribed seasons 
in the synagogues ; sometimes from the side of a moun- 
tain ; at other times, he spoke from a ship to crowds on 
the shore. He accosted fishermen mending their nets, and 
discoursed with tax-gatherers whom he met in the streets, 
or at tables where he was invited to dine. While Rabbins 
were employed in elaborate commentaries on the Tradi- 
tionary Law, making distinctions too subtle to be under- 
stood, he conveyed great truths in significant parables, and 
drew his illustrations from familiar objects, the "weeds in 
the wheat fields, the lost sheep of the flocks, water from 
the well, birds of the air, and lilies of the fields ; a mode 
of teaching, which must have been as attractive as it was 
new among the Jews. 

When he visited Nazareth, "where he had been brought 
up, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and 
stood up to read, as his custom was. And there was de- 


livered to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He found 
the place where it was written : ' The Spirit of the Lord 
is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the 
gospel to the poor ; he hath sent me to heal the broken- 
hearted ; to preach deliverance to the captives, and re- 
covery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are 
bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.' And 
he closed the book, and gave it again to the minister, and 
sat down." The next line of the prophet was, " and the day 
of vengeance of our Grod;" but that he read not. His 
gentle soul confined itself to the mission of love and mercy. 
But when he began to say to his audience: " This day is 
this Scripture fulfilled in your ears," they were "filled 
with wrath" at the implied assertion that he was the prom- 
ised Messiah. "And they rose up, and would have thrust 
him out of the city." Jews were so suspicious of impostors 
on that subject, and the Roman government watched over 
it with such a jealous eye, that Jesus practised great cau- 
tion. To those who first recognized him as the Messiah, 
he said: "See that ye tell no man." When asked, he 
did not directly answer the dangerous question, but re- 
ferred them to his wonderful works, as proofs of a divine 
mission. Subsequently, he distinctly and repeatedly 
claimed to be the Messiah promised by the prophets. But 
he described the kingdom to be established on earth in a 
manner very different from the general expectation. There 
was no promise of victorious wars with other nations ; of 
rank, and honour, and splendid apparel, and great feasts, 
and fields producing loaves of bread and gigantic grapes. 
On the contrary, he said : " Whoever shall not receive the 
kingdom of God as a little child, shall in no wise enter 
therein." " Whosoever will be great among you, shall be 
your minister. And whosoever of you will be chiefest, 
shall be servant of all." A willingness to sacrifice housea 
and lands, and every form of worldly comfort and pros- 
perity, for the advancement of the truth, was the requisite 
preparation to enter his kingdom. But when he described 
his coming to reign on earth, the language was such as the 

jews. 93 

people had been accustomed to associate with the advent 
of their Messiah. He said : "In those days, the sun shall 
be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, and the 
stars of heaven shall fall. Then shall ye see the Son of 
Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great 
glory. Then shall he send his angels, and shall gather 
together his elect from the uttermost parts of earth, to the 
uttermost parts of heaven." Concerning the time that 
these events might be expected, he said to his disciples : 
" Yerily I say unto you this generation shall not pass 
away, till all these things be done." At another time, he 
said : "I tell you of a truth there be some. standing here, 
who shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom of 
God come with power." On one occasion, he said of his 
most beloved apostle, John: " If I will that he tarry till I 
come, what is that to thee ?" In consequence of this, " the 
saying went abroad that that disciple should not die." So 
strongly were his followers impressed with the belief that 
his kingdom would be established on earth during their 
lifetime, that they disputed among themselves who should 
be greatest in that kingdom. Two of them made the ex- 
plicit request : " Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy 
right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory." 
Jesus rebuked such ambitious thoughts, by answering: 
" If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, 
and servant of all ;" but he made no remark to discourage 
the expectation that his kingdom would soon be estab- 
lished on this earth. A belief in the transmigration of 
souls being common among the Jews, some of the populace 
accounted for his miracles by supposing that he was Elijah, 
or Jeremiah, or one of the old prophets, come back to this 
world again in a new body ; but others shared the belief 
of his immediate disciples, and followed him shouting, 
"Hosanna, to the Son of David!" or "Hosanna to the 
King of Israel!" At that period, the Jews were more 
eager than ever in their expectation of a Messiah. Moses 
had prophesied : " Thou shalt rule over many nations, but 
other nations shall not rule over thee ;" and God had 


promised the prophet Nathan that the posterity of David 
should sit on the throne of Israel forever. The kings of 
Mesopotamia, of Moab, of Canaan, of Midian, of Ammon, 
of Egypt, of Assyria, and of Babylon, had by turns ruled 
over them. Their prophets told them all these things had 
happened because they worshipped idols; and if they 
would adore Jehovah only, a branch would certainly 
spring from the root of David, and fulfil the glorious 
prophecy. Thenceforth, they avoided the worship of 
images, and were strict in their observance of Mosaic cere- 
monials. But Persians, Macedonians, Egyptians, Syrians, 
and Romans, successively brought them under a foreign 
yoke. They became impatient for the fulfilment of the ever 
renewed promise. They were restless under the Roman 
government, always looking for their prince and deliverer. 
Moreover, many predictions were afloat that now the time 
was certainly nigh at hand. What is constantly called 
for usually comes, or appears to come. Men who claimed 
to be the Messiah were continually rising up, and deluding 
the Jews with false hopes. Romans watched this national 
tendency with a very suspicious eye. Had it involved 
merely a religious question, they would have taken little 
interest in it. But the word Messiah implied a King, be- 
cause it signified The Anointed One. Translated into 
Greek, it became Christos, which we call Christ. Jesus 
Christ, in Hebrew, Joshua the Messiah, was said to be of 
the old royal stock, the very line in which it had always 
been predicted the Messiah would come. These circum- 
stances, combined with the increasing number of his prose- 
lytes, excited the jealousy of priests and magistrates. He 
was consequently accused to the Roman government as a 
promoter of sedition, and a blasphemer, because he called 
himself the Son of God. Instigated by the powerful 
Jewish sects, who were offended by his rebukes, and 
alarmed by his popularity with the common people, they 
condemned him to death as a political offender, on the 
charge that he pretended to be King of the Jews. Some 
vestige of the idea of human sacrifice still remained ; for 

jews. 95 

when the Roman Governor evinced a willingness to dis- 
charge Jesus, the High Priest declared : " It is expedient 
that one man should die for the people, that the whole na- 
tion perish not." 

Jesus had long had a foreshadowing of his fate, and had 
tried to prepare the minds of his disciples by the most ten- 
der and solemn exhortations. Being in Jerusalem at the 
time of the Passover, he supped with them, and followed 
the custom observed by every master of a Jewish house- 
hold at that festival. He blessed bread, brake it in pieces, 
and gave it to his disciples to eat. He blessed wine, and 
passed the cup to them to drink, saying : " Henceforth, I 
will not drink of this fruit of the vine, until that day when 
I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Even 
at this last supper, there was a strife among them which 
should be the greatest in his kingdom. When he had 
renewed his exhortations that the chiefest among them 
should be willing to be as a servant, he added : " I appoint 
unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto 
me ; that ye may eat and drink at my table, in my king- 
dom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of 
Israel." He had previously indicated that one of the 
twelve, who were present with him, would betray him to 
his enemies. When they had sung a hymn, he went with 
them to the Mount of Olives, where he was accustomed to 
pray. There, in view of his approaching death, his spirit 
was " exceeding sorrowful." He prayed, " Father, all 
things are possible with thee. Take away this cup from 
me. Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done." Ever 
and anon he returned restlessly to his disciples, whom he 
found sleeping. " And being in an agony," he repeated 
the same prayer more earnestly, a second and a third 
time ; " and his sweat was as great drops of blood falling 
down to the ground." 

At this awful crisis, his companions manifested little 
courage or constancy. When the treacherous disciple, who 
had betrayed him for money, came with the chief priests 
and captains of the temple, to seize him, all the other dis- 


ciples " forsook him and fled." When one of them was 
subsequently accused of having been among his followers, 
"he began to curse and to swear, saying I know not the 
man;" but he soon repented of this, and "wept bitterly." 
The trial was accompanied with every species of insult; 
but the struggle had passed in the soul of Jesus, and he 
was calm, collected, and gentle. When the High Priest 
asked him : " Art thou the Christ ?" He answered : " I am; 
and ye shall see the Son of Man, sitting on the right hand 
of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Then the 
High Priest said: " Behold ye have heard his blasphemy!" 
In mockery, they put a crown of thorns upon his head, 
and placed over his cross the inscription : " King of the 
Jews," and crucified two thieves with him. His beloved 
disciple John, his mother, and two other women, who had 
been among his devoted followers, were with him at the 
place of execution. It is recorded by his biographers that 
while he was suspended on the cross, there was darkness 
over the whole earth for three hours; that there was a 
great earthquake, which shattered rocks, burst open tombs, 
and rent the vail of the temple ; that numerous saints rose 
from their graves, and appeared to many in Jerusalem. 
After three hours of mortal agony, he died, praying: 
"Father, forgive them ; for they know not what they do." 
And truly they did not. Priests, having the sanction of 
centuries for regarding their office as holy, and trusting 
fully in the efficacy of ceremonial routine, naturally re- 
garded him as a fanatical disturber of the peace. Ascetics, 
judging him by their own standard, thought he could 
not be a holy man, because he fasted less than they did, 
and allowed sinners to associate with him. Magistrates 
suspected he might be seeking political power, under the 
disguise of- spirituality and meekness. None of them com- 
prehended his character, or understood his mission. 

The Law of Moses required that those who were hanged 
should be taken down and buried the same day. More- 
over, as Jesus was crucified on Friday, the Sabbath would 
have been desecrated if his dead body had remained sus- 

jews. 97 

pended in the Holy City until the next day. Prompt 
removal was therefore necessary ; and when the execu- 
tioners had decided that he was lifeless, his body was given 
to one of his followers, who deposited it in a new tomb. 
As he had predicted that he should rise on the third day, 
the Chief Priests urged the necessity of placing a large 
stone at the mouth of the sepulchre, and appointing men 
to watch it, lest his disciples should come by night and 
take the body away, and then make the people believe 
that he had risen from the dead. It was not allowable to 
do anything on the Jewish Sabbath ; but very early in the 
morning, on the first day of the week, which we call Sun- 
day, some of the women, who had stood by him at the 
cross, went, according to custom, to carry spices and oint- 
ments to his tomb. Matthew, in his biography of Jesus, 
informs us that " there was a great earthquake : for the 
angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and 
rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His 
countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as 
snow. And for fear of him, the keepers did shake, and 
became as dead men." This heavenly messenger told the 
women not to be afraid, but to go and tell the disciples 
that their master had risen and gone into Galilee. They 
ran joyfully to impart the news. On the way, Jesus him- 
self met them, and repeated the message they had received. 
"When the eleven disciples heard the tidings, they " went 
away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had ap- 
pointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped 
him ; but some doubted." 

Mark says he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, but 
when she told the disciples, they believed her not. After- 
ward, he appeared "in another form" to two of them as 
they walked in the country ; but when they told it to the 
residue, their account was not believed. " Afterward he 
appeared to the eleven, as they sat at meat, and upbraided 
them with their unbelief." 

Luke says that when Peter heard the account given by 
the women, he ran to the sepulchre and, stooping down, 
Vol. II.— 9 e 


perceived that the body was gone, and the grave-clothes 
"wrapped together. He repeats the account of his appear- 
ing to two disciples as they walked: "but their eyes were 
holden that they should not know him;" and as soon as 
their eyes were opened, "he vanished out of their sight." 
Afterward, he appeared suddenly in the midst of the eleven, 
as they sat at supper in Jerusalem. When he saw that 
they were terrified, he said: "Behold my hands and my 
feet, that it is I myself. Handle me, and see ; for a spirit 
hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." He asked 
for food, and ate of the broiled fish and honeycomb, which 
they gave him. 

John says Mary Magdalene was first at the sepulchre, 
and finding the stone rolled away, she ran and told Peter 
and John, who went and found the tomb empty, and the 
linen clothes lying there wrapped together ; but they had 
no expectation that he was to rise from the dead. Mary 
remained there weeping, after they were gone, and Jesus 
appeared before her, and asked her why she wept ; but she 
mistook him for the gardener, until he pronounced her 
name. She told the disciples of this interview, and on the 
evening of the same day he appeared in the midst of them, 
in a room where they had assembled together, "the doors 
being shut." One of the disciples, named Thomas, was 
absent; and when he heard the account, he said he would 
not believe it, unless he could put his finger in the holes 
which the nails had made in the hands of Jesus. Eight 
days after, when they were all assembled, "the doors being 
shut," Jesus appeared in the midst, and said to Thomas: 
"Reach hither thy finger and examine my hands; and 
reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side." 

Jesus did not show himself publicly, but it is recorded 
that during forty days he was seen at different places 
by his disciples ; and by " above five hundred of the 
brethren at once." He had various conversations with 
them, and gave them many parting instructions. He 
promised that those who believed on his name should 
receive power to cast out devils, to speak all languages, to 

jews. 99 

heal the sick, to handle deadly serpents, and drink poison, 
unharmed. One of his biographers says that while he thus 
spoke with them: "He was received up into heaven, and 
sat at the right hand of God." Another says that while he 
blessed them he was parted from them : " a cloud received 
him and carried him out of their sight up into heaven;" 
and two angels appeared unto them saying : " This same 
Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so 
come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." 
One of his biographers says the Chief Priests bribed the 
watch to say that his disciples came by night and stole the 
body away while they slept, adding : " And this saying is 
commonly reported among the Jews, until this day." 

Jesus left no written statement of his life or doctrines. 
All we know of him is gathered from the writings of his 
disciples and early followers ; from whose evidence it is 
concluded that the period between his baptism and his 
death was three years, or less ; though some say six. 
The Roman writers, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and 
Suetonius, make brief allusions to him by name ; and these 
are the only traces of him in the histories of that age. 

Ideas concerning the Messiah varied much among dif- 
ferent sects and classes. The most common expectation 
was that a great conqueror and prince would arise and go 
forth, " with garments rolled in blood," inflicting summary 
vengeance on all nations that oppressed the Jews. Some 
expected a legislator wiser than Moses ; some a great moral 
reformer, a Prince of Peace. It was an old and prevailing 
idea that Adam existed with Jehovah, as an immortal 
Spirit, before a body was created for him on this earth; 
therefore, they were accustomed to call him " The Son of 
God," " The Lord from heaven." Many believed he had 
re-appeared in the form of Abraham, Moses, Jacob, and 
David, and that he would again re-appear in the form of 
the Messiah. , It was in this sense they spoke of " the First 
Adam and the Second Adam ; the Old Adam and the New 
Adam." Some thought the archangel Michael, the tutelary 
guardian of the Jews, would appear as their Messiah, and 


would be visible only to Jehovah's chosen people. In the 
later times, two Messiahs, of different character, were pre- 
dicted. One was to be persecuted, suffer, and die. Another 
was to succeed him, who was to conquer all hostile nations, 
restore the kingdom to Israel, and bring the whole world 
under subjection to the Law of Moses. During the exile 
in Babylon, the Hebrew mind had become familiar with 
the character and history of the Persian Arimanes. In 
the last centuries preceding Christ, we find a similar per- 
sonage mixed with their predictions, under the name of the 
Anti Messiah, represented as a great enemy to the estab- 
lishment of the kingdom of the true Messiah, with whom 
he would have many contests, and cause the Jews much 
suffering. But he would finally be vanquished, and the 
Lord's chosen people would be restored to their promised 
land, under the peaceful and prosperous reign of the true 
Anointed One. 

The patient faith manifested under all their reverses of 
fortune is truly admirable. In the Hebrew Scriptures all 
is triumphant certainty on this point. The later writings 
of some of the Alexandrian Jews have a sadder and less 
sanguine tone. The author of the second book of Esdras 
says: "0 Lord, behold these heathen, which have ever 
been reputed as nothing, have begun to be lords over us, 
and to devour us. But we thy people, whom thou hast 
called thy first-born, thy only begotten, and thy fervent 
lover, are given into their hands. If the world was made 
for our sakes, why do we not possess an inheritance with 
the world ? How long shall this endure ?" 

Prophecies concerning the destruction of the world, and 
the renewal of all things, apparently founded on very an- 
cient astronomical calculations in Chaldea and Egypt, per- 
vaded all Asiatic countries. In the Jewish mind it became 
mixed with the advent of their Messiah, who they believed 
would reign over the renovated earth for a thousand years. 
Righteous Jews, whose souls were waiting in Paradise for 
the resurrection of their bodies, would be raised from the 
dead, and appointed " to judge the nations." The Tal- 

JEWS. 101 

mud says: "The righteous, whom the Lord shall raise 
from the dead, in the days of the Messiah, when they are 
restored to life shall not again return to their dust, neither 
in the da}^s of the Messiah, nor in the following age ; but 
their flesh shall remain upon them." 

Jews had very great reverence for their Sacred Writings. 
They did not allow their Book of the Law to be written 
on parchment made of the hide of any unclean animal, or 
prepared ■ by any but an Israelite. The very strings with 
which it was tied must be made of a substance deemed 
perfectly pure. When copied, they allowed no word to be 
written from memory, or without being first pronounced. 
Before they wrote the name of Deity, they always washed 
the pen. They never touched the book without washing 
their hands, and not then unless it was covered. For 
many centuries their Sacred Writings consisted solely of 
the Law, which tradition ascribed to Moses. There is not ] 
a line in the book of Genesis to indicate who was the j 
author, nor a sentence to imply whence he obtained his \ 
information. The account of Creation, of the Deluge, of 
the Garden, the Tree, and the Serpent, bear a strong re- 
semblance to the sacred traditions of other oriental nations ; 
but the history of Creation is more concise and majestic 
than in any other Sacred Books, the knowledge of which is 
preserved. " God said, Let there be Light, and there was 
Light," has often been quoted as one of the most sublime 
sentences on record. The books ascribed to Moses were 
called by Eomans Liber Pentateuchus, which means the 
Five Books; whence our word Pentateuch is derived. 
Among Hebrews, these books had no other name than the 
word with which each began ; thus the}; called Genesis 
Bereshith, which means, In the beginning. At what period 
the compilation was made has been a subject of much con- 
troversy. Scholars say the language of the Pentateuch 
corresponds with the sacred historical books written a 
thousand years later ; and such a thing was never known 
as the language of any people remaining unchanged du- 
ring a thousand years. Expressions are often used which 
Vol. II.— 9* 


betray that they were written after the time of Moses. 
Many cities and countries are called by names which they . 
did not receive until long after that period. It is said 
" the children of Israel did eat manna fort}^ years in the 
wilderness, till they came to the borders of Canaan ;" and 
it is likewise said that Moses died before they came to the 
borders of Canaan. In recording some old transaction, it 
is often said : " the Canaanites then dwelt in the land ;" and 
the Canaanites were not driven out till the time of Joshua. 
The phrase often occurs: "And so it is unto this day." 
There are descriptions of what happened " before there 
reigned any king over the children of Israel ;" and no 
king of Israel existed until six hundred years after Moses. 
The death of Moses and the succession of Joshua is de- 
scribed, which plainly could not have been done by Moses 
himself. There is much internal evidence that the books 
were a compilation of ancient fragments. There are many 
repetitions and many omissions. Between Genesis and/ 
Exodus four hundred years are passed over. In some/ 
places, God is called Elohim, in others by the later title of 
Jehovah ; as if the compiler had before him two documents, 
in one of which the more ancient name of Deity was used. 
Two accounts of the Creation follow each other. The 
story of Moses bringing water from the rock is twice told ; 
so is the account of manna falling on the ground. There 
are two accounts of Noah's Ark. In one he is described 
as taking seven pair of all clean animals, and one pair of 
all unclean animals ; the other represents him as taking 
two and two of all kinds. In the course of a few chapters, 
the same story is told of Abraham and of his son Isaac, 
each passing off his wife as his sister, to deceive the same 
king. The account of Isaac's parents laughing at the 
prospect of his birth is repeated three times in the course 
of five chapters. There is no account given of any other 
family on earth at the beginning, except that of Adam ; 
yet it is said his son Cain went to the land of Nod, and 
took him a wife. Two sets of commandments are repre- 
sented as given by God to Moses ; the last far less occupied 

jews. 108 

with morality, and much more with ceremonials, than the 
first. The twentieth chapter of Exodus contains the fol- 
lowing ten commandments : 

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 

u Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or 
any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that 
is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the 
earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor 
serve them. 

" Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in 

"Kemember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. In it 
thou shalt not do any work; thou, nor thy son, nor thy 
daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy 
cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates. 

u Honour thy father and thy mother. 

" Thou shalt not kill. 

"Thou shalt not commit adultery. 

u Thou shalt not steal. 

" Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 

" Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, his wife, 
his man servant, or maid servant, or ox, or ass, or any 
thing that is thy neighbour's." 

The tables of stone on which these were written were 
broken by Moses, in his anger at the idolatry of the people. 
He ascended Mount Sinai a second time, to commune with 
Jehovah. " And the Lord said, Hew thee two tables of 
stone like unto the first, and I will write upon these tables 
the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest." 
But the words, as recorded in the thirty-fourth chapter of 
Exodus, bear very little resemblance to the first set of 
commandments. They may be abridged as follows : 

" Take heed to thyself lest thou make a covenant with 
the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest ; lest it be 
for a snare in the midst of thee. But ye shall destroy 
their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves. 
Thou shalt worship no other God ; for the Lord, whose 
name is Jealous, is a jealous God. 


" Thou shalt make thee no molten gods, 

"The feast of unleavened bread thou shalt keep, and 
dedicate all firstlings unto me ; but the first-born of thy 
sons thou shalt redeem. None shall appear before me 

" Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh day thou 
shalt rest. In earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest. 

"Thou shalt observe the Feast of Weeks, the First- 
fruits of Wheat-harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering, at 
the year's end. 

" Thrice in the year shall all your males appear before 
the Lord Jehovah, the God of Israel. 

" Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with 

11 The sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover shall not be 
left to the morning. 

" The first of the first-fruits of the land shalt thou bring 
into the house of Jehovah thy Grod. 

" Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk." 

This second set of commandments appear to have been 
those afterward so carefully preserved in the Ark, 

Joshua is said to have written a copy of the Law of 
Moses on an altar made of twelve stones ; which of course 
could not have been done unless it then existed in a much 
briefer form than it does at present. A Book of the Law 
is mentioned in the twenty -fourth chapter of Joshua ; but 
the Pentateuch does not contain what it is said he wrote 
in that Book of the Law. Allusions are often made to a 
Book of the Law "laid up before the Lord ;" but in what 
form those legal writings existed is not known. In all 
countries, ancient traditions floated about in the form of 
oral communications, or fragmentary scraps, long before 
they were reduced to established order. Moses, being 
educated in Egypt, a country where written laws and writ- 
ten records were in use many centuries before his time, 
probably committed some of his own laws to writing ; but 
they must have been in brief form, as he probably had 
no better materials than wood or stone to write upon. 

jews. 105 

Whether these were preserved through the wanderings 
and manifold disasters of the Hebrews, and what changes 
they afterward encountered, are questions that cannot be 
answered. Samaritans had a copy of the Pentateuch writ- 
ten in the ancient Hebrew or Canaanitish characters ; from 
which it has been inferred that it existed before the ten 
tribes revolted. The prevailing opinion of the learned is 
that after the return from Babylon, Ezra collected all the 
fragments he could find, and wove them together with such 
additions as he deemed necessary. 

There were prophets from the very commencement of 
the Hebrew state, but in early times they do not appear 
to have written anything ; probably because literature was 
not sufficiently advanced. The written oracles of the pro- 
phets began about eight hundred years before Christ. 
Some prophecies were written without having been pre- 
viously communicated to the public ; others were not 
written down till long after they had been orally delivered. 
Jeremiah is the only prophet who has given an account 
of his writings ; and according to his statement, it appears 
that twenty-three years elapsed between the time when he 
began to prophesy, and the date of committing his oracles 
to writing. The Jews of Palestine did not number David 
and Daniel among the prophets; because they did not lead 
the life of prophets, but resided in courts. It was not 
permitted that prophecies should be written out of the 
Holy Land. Ezekiel and Daniel prophesied while they 
were in captivity in Babylon. The Talmud states that 
they did not write down their own oracles ; but men of 
the Great Synagogue committed them to writing, after the 
return to Jerusalem. It says the same Assembly of Elders 
wrote down the twelve minor prophets, and likewise the 
short predictions of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. It 
likewise declares that the book of Ezekiel came very near 
being left out of the sacred canon, on the ground that it con- 
tained some things contrary to Moses ; but a learned Eabbi 
having reconciled the apparent contradictions, they con- 
cluded to allow it to remain. The word Malachi in Hebrew 


means an angel, or a messenger ; therefore, some suppose 
it was not a name, but merely a title applied to some pro- 
phet; perhaps to Ezra. The writings of the prophets-, 
like those of other men, vary according to their tempera- 
ments and modes of life. Isaiah is bold and strong, Jere- 
miah ever inclines to sadness. The rustic Amos is full of 
allusions to rural life. Daniel and Ezekiel who had lived 
long in Babylon, abound in Persian imagery. Many pro- 
phecies are undoubtedly lost. Some referred to by the 
disciples of Christ are not contained in the present copies 
of the Hebrew Scriptures ; and the same is true of many 
quoted by Josephus. 

The Pentateuch alone was read in the synagogues until 
after the time of the persecution by Antiochus. When he 
seized the copies of the Law, and forbade it to be read to 
the people, they substituted fifty -four sections out of the 
Prophets, instead of the fifty-four sections of the Law, from 
which they had been accustomed to read, one every Sab- 
bath. Afterward, when Judas Maccabseus restored the 
Law, they read a section of it for the first lesson every 
Sabbath, and continued to read a section of the Prophets 
for a second lesson. From that time they were often spoken 
of together, as the Law and the Prophets. 

All the other books were included under the title of 
Hagiographa, which means Sacred Writings. One of these, 
Hebrews called Sepher Tephilim, or Book of Praises. In 
the Greek tongue it was named Psalms, from a word which 
signifies a to touch sweetly;" because when these hymns 
were sung in the temple, musical instruments joined with 
the voices. The book is a miscellaneous collection of re- 
ligious odes or poems, on various occasions of victory, 
thanksgiving, or humiliation. The forty-fifth Psalm seems 
to have been written for some royal marriage ; perhaps in 
honour of the daughter of Pharaoh, when she was brought 
from her native land into the seraglio of Solomon. They 
were written at various times, and by various persons. 
Some are ascribed to Moses, others appear to have been 
written during the captivity. The Levites doubtless kept 

jews. 107 

copies for the service of the temple ; but it is not likely 
that the collection was made until after the return from 
Babylon. That it was compiled from several smaller col- 
lections is proved by the repetition of almost entire Psalms, 
by the fact that those attributed to the same author are 
scattered about in different places ; and by the doxologies, 
appropriately belonging to the end of a book, but now in- 
discriminately dispersed. 

The book called by Hebrews the Song of Songs, or the 
Most Beautiful Song, is the only vestige of their amatory 
poetry. It has been generally attributed to Solomon, but 
traces of the Aramaean dialect have led some scholars to 
suppose that it was written after the captivity. Its lan- 
guage is passionate and glowing, and its literal sense has so 
little connection with religion, that the inquiry has often 
been made, why it was included in the canon of Sacred 
Writings. Jewish Rabbis permitted no one under thirty 
years of age to read this Song; and it was never publicly 
read or explained. In Latin it was called Canticles, which 
means Little Songs. 

Ecclesiastes, or The Preacher, likewise attributed to 
Solomon, is far from spiritual in most of its teaching. 
The perpetually recurring idea is : " A man hath no better 
thing under the sun, than to eat, and drink, and be merry." 
Its counsel is : " Be not wicked over-rnuch, neither be thou 
foolish. Why shouldst thou die before thy time ?" " Be 
not righteous over-much, neither make thyself over-wise. 
Why shouldst thou destroy thyself? For that which be- 
falleth the sons of men befalleth beasts ; even one thing 
befalleth them. As the one dieth, so dieth the other. 
Yea they have all one breath ; so that a man hath no pre- 
eminence above a beast ; for all is vanity. All go unto 
one place. All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." 
In another place, the writer says : " The dust shall return 
to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God 
who gave it;" which seems to imply the Oriental idea that 
human souls emanated from the Universal Soul, and are 
absorbed in it again. Rabbi Nathan says it was formerly 


determined that the Proverbs of Solomon, the Song of 
Solomon, and Ecclesiastes, were apocryphal books, not to 
be reckoned with the Hagiographa; and for this reason 
they were kept concealed until the time of the Great 
Synagogue, when some of the learned Rabbis explained 

It was the common custom for ancient nations to intrust 
to the priesthood their historical annals, and all other 
writings of importance, that they might be kept in the 
temples for safety. The kings of Israel had scribes to 
record the events of their reigns,and such writings would 
be invested with even more sacredness among the Jews 
than among other people, because they were perpetually 
taught to believe that God himself governed their nation, 
and that all which befell them, great or small, was done 
under his immediate supervision, and by his direct assist- 
ance. De Wette says: "According to Hebrew opinion^ 
their theocracy is the centre and object of the whole history 
of the world. The ground of it they represent as laid im- 
mediately after the Creation, when the people of God were 
gradually separated from other people. The belief that 
they were the only favourites of Jehovah is as old as the 
nation itself; but it first received a steady direction from 
Moses." All their heroes, as well as prophets, appear only 
as instruments of Jehovah. In their eyes r Saul did not 
lose his power because Samuel, the powerful prophet, was 
alienated from him; or because David, the successful 
young hero, stole away the hearts of the people ; but God 
repented that he had made Saul king, because he had 
ventured not to obey to the letter the divine command to 
slaughter every man, woman, babe, ox, and sheep, belong- 
ing to the Amalekites. If Samuel hewed a prisoner of 
war into pieces, it was not he who did it, but the Lord who 
commanded him. If a hostile army was scattered by a 
remarkable hail-storm, they said: "The Lord cast down 
great stones from heaven upon them." If they found an 
eatable substance exuding from plants in the wilderness, 
they supposed it came down from heaven on purpose to 

JEWS. 109 

sustain them. In fact, everything that happened in the 
world was presumed to be performed for their especial 
benefit, either to reward, or punish, or instruct them. A 
nation who considered themselves peculiarly protected by 
the Highest, while other nations were intrusted to inferior 
Spirits, mere subordinate ministers of their own Great 
King, must necessarily regard their own history as sacred 
above all other histories. 

The historical books contain much internal evidence that 
they also were made up of fragments. In the book of 
Samuel it is said that Saul sent for David, the son of Jesse, 
because he was represented to him as "a cunning player 
on the harp;" that Saul became much attached to him, 
made him his armour-bearer, and sent to Jesse to ask that 
he might always remain in the royal household. When 
Goliah defied the armies of Israel, it was told the king that 
David had boldly inquired : " Who is this uncircumcised -> 
Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living 
God?" Whereupon, Saul questioned the stripling, and 
finding him of undaunted courage and faith, he himself 
armed him with a coat of mail, and put a helmet of brass 
on his head, and sent him forth to fight Goliah. In the 
very next chapter we are told that when Saul saw a cham- 
pion go forth against Goliah, he inquired, " Whose son is 
the youth ?" and Abner answered : " I cannot tell." When 
David returned with the head of Goliah, Saul sent for him, 
to ask who he was ; and he answered : "I am David, son 
of Jesse." De Wette says : " Such inconsistencies can only 
be explained on the supposition that the author drew from 
various sources, whose testimony was imperfect ; often con- 
flicting." The same stories are told in quite a different 
spirit in different books. In Samuel, we are told that God. 
moved David to number Israel, because he was angry with 
them. The author of Chronicles says Satan moved him to 
do it. Chronicles were probably written by some de- 
scendant of Levi, and a strong partizan of the royal house 
of David ; for there is a manifest tendency to glorify the 
priesthood, and strong prejudice in favour of the kingdom 
Vol. II.— 10 


of Judab, in comparison with the revolted kingdom of 
Israel. In the book of Kings it is implied that priests 
embezzled the money, which king Jehoash devoted to 
repair the temple; but no allusion is made to that dis- 
creditable charge when the same story is told in Chronicles. 
Neither do they record that David obtained unlawful pos- 
session of Uriah's wife; or that he caused Saul's seven 
sons and grandsons to be murdered to satisfy the vengeance 
of the Gibeonites ; or that Amnon ravished his own sister 
Tarnar ; or that Absalom rebelled against his father ; and 
nothing is said of Solomon's idolatry, or of his seven 
hundred wives and three hundred concubines. The state- 
ments in Chronicles, compared with those in Kings, show 
a tendency to exaggerate numbers, and increase the mira- 

It is not supposed that the Prophecies and the Hagio- 
grapha were collected and comprised within the canon of 
Sacred Scriptures until the time of Ezra. Elias, the Le- 
vite, distinctly speaks of the compilation as the work of 
the Great Synagogue. Many things must have been added 
after Ezra's time; for in Nehemiah mention is made of 
Darius Codomanus, who was king of Persia at least a 
hundred years later than the time of Ezra ; and the days 
of Jaddua are spoken of as days past, though Jaddua out- 
lived Alexander the Great two years. As this was more 
than two hundred years after ISTehemiah's time, somebody 
must have made additions to his book. In the first book 
of Chronicles, records of genealogy are brought down so 
far, that they must have reached the epoch of Alexander 
the Great. It is not known with certainty when the canon 
closed ; that is, when it was decided to be unlawful to add 
any more books. The word canon signifies a rule, a stan- 
dard. According to Jewish tradition it was completed by 
Simon the Just, the last of the men of the Great Syna- 
gogue, and High Priest of the Jews, two hundred and 
ninety-two years before Christ. In addition to completing 
their Sacred Scriptures, he performed many other services 
to church and state. The author of Ecclesiasticus says : 

JEWS. Ill 

" How he was honoured in the midst of the people in his 
coming out of the sanctuary ! He was as the morning 
star in the midst of a cloud, and as the moon at the full. 
As the sun shining upon the temple of the Most High, 
and as the rainbow giving light in the bright clouds. 
When he put on the robe of honour, and went up to the 
holy altar, he made the garment of holiness honourable." 

Eichhorn, the learned commentator, says: "Soon after 
the return of Jews from Babylonian exile, a collection 
was made of all the extant writings of the nation, which 
were rendered sacred in the eyes of the new people, by 
their age, their character, or their authors. The library 
thus formed was deposited in the temple, and for a consid- 
erable time before Christ no further addition was made to 
it." De Wette says: "One thing is certain; the collection 
came gradually into existence, and acquired a sort of sanc- 
tion, by force of custom and public use." 

Until after the Christian era, the Sacred Books of He- 
brews were mentioned under the general name of The 
Scriptures, which simply means The Writings; or. The 
Holy Scriptures ; or Biblos, a Greek word signifying 
The Book. The most ancient substance used to write on 
was the inner bark of a tree, called Biblos. Thence it 
happened that writings were called Biblos; pronounced 
Bible, in the English tongue. 

The Pentateuch makes no mention of a future exist- 
ence ; and allusions to it are extremely vague in the His- 
torical Books, the Prophecies, and the Psalms. Isaiah 
says : " The grave cannot praise thee ; death cannot cele- 
brate thee ; they that go down into the pit, cannot hope 
for thy truth." One Psalmist says : " The dead praise not 
the Lord, neither any that go down into silence." Another 
asks despondingly : " Shall the dead arise and praise thee? 
Shall thy wonders be known in the dark ? And thy 
righteousness in the land of forgetfulness ?" But another 
exclaims, with joyful confidence: "God will redeem my 
soul from the power of the grave ; he shall receive me." 
And David says: "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, 


neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." 
In the later prophets, Daniel and Ezekiel, are some distinct 
allusions to the immortality of the souL But from the 
time of bondage in Egypt, till after the return from Baby- 
lonian exile, the Israelites seem to have been encouraged 
and restrained mainly by the prospect of temporal reward 
and punishment. The punishment was generally repre- 
sented as immediate ; but not always. Jehovah might 
delay retribution, but the evil would be suffered by de- 
scendants, down to distant generations, if the sinner him- 
self escaped it. Frederic Yon Kaumer, a learned Prus- 
sian, in his Lectures on Ancient History, says: "In the 
traditions of no people do we find such frequent mention 
of the rewards and punishments of the present life, and 
so little satisfactory or animating allusion to a future state, 
as among the Jews." 

Hebrew Sacred Books have that character of primitive 
simplicity r which belongs only to ancient times. Sexual 
allusions abound in them, as they do in all Asiatic docu- 
ments. The stories of Judah and the harlot, and of Lot 
and his daughters, are told with a plainness of speech, 
which would scarcely be tolerated in modern records. 
God is perpetually described metaphorically as a jealous 
husband, and Israel as his bride. Every foreign deity is 
represented as a paramour, and to worship any of them is 
called " going a whoring after other gods. n 

The defects of these writings are such as must neces- 
sarily belong to the productions of a remote period, corn* 
ing from a people originally ignorant and savage, and 
who were always arrogant and exclusive, by reason of their 
strong faith that they were the peculiar and only favourites 
of Heaven. But if the ignorance and credulity of the 
world's childhood has left its traces on these venerable 
documents, they are likewise marked by a child-like and 
trusting piety, by earnest and devout ideas, often clothed in 
grand and beautiful imagery. Humble dependence upon 
the deities for daily benefits was inculcated in all religions; 
but the Hebrew is peculiar and remarkable for its eloquent 

JEWS. 113 

outbursts of contrition for sin, its deep sense of human un- 
worthiness before a pure God, "in whose sight the heavens 
themselves are not clean." No ancient religious writings, 
of which we have any knowledge, equal some portions of 
the Hebrew in spirituality, sublimity, and power. To the 
devout inquirer after truth they are peculiarly valuable, as 
showing how the doctrine of One Invisible God, supreme 
above all other gods, of whom no image was allowed to be 
made, was steadily proclaimed by the highest minds among 
them, forever struggling with the polytheistic tendencies 
of the people. De Wette says : " He who despises the 
relics of the Hebrews, because they proceed from a nation 
which had not reached a high degree of culture, and had 
made but a one-sided use of their powers of mind, must 
either be ungrateful for their great merit, or so unjust as 
to demand the full light of high noon from the first faint 
glimmering of morn. Much rather would every free, im- 
partial reader, who has a taste for the writings of such early 
times, and of a country so foreign to us as Asia, be power- 
fully attracted to them by their contents, and their old and 
original spirit; and he will never lay them down without 
reverence and gratitude for the fortunate destiny which has 
preserved them. In them we find a rich collection of gen- 
uine poesies of nature, which every lover of the poetic art will 
hold in high esteem. Among them we discover kinds of 
poetry of which nothing of similar excellence has survived 
amid the far richer relics of Greek literature. Who would 
not exchange a part of Pindar's hymns of victory for his 
lost religious odes, since almost all Grecian songs of that 
character have perished? From the Hebrews we have 
primitive old temple-songs, in a solemn, devout, and highly 
original tone. These, and other kinds of Hebrew poetry, 
no man has ever read with poetic feelings, and with the 
power of recalling ancient times, without falling in love 
with the old Oriental spirit they breathe, and rejoicing, at 
the same time, that we have specimens of at least one 
Oriental nation, although they are so very imperfect." 
Eichhorn, one of the most celebrated Oriental scholars 
Vol. If.— 10* 


of Germany, speaking of the Hebrew Scriptures, says: 
" What variety in language and expression ! Isaiah does 
not write like Moses f nor Jeremiah like Ezekiel ; and be- 
tween these and any of the minor prophets there is again 
a great diversity of style. The style of Moses is distin- 
guished by its scrupulous grammatical correctness. The 
book of Judges is filled with provincialisms and barbarisms. 
In Isaiah, we meet with old words under new inflections. 
Jeremiah and Ezekiel have their Chaldaisms. In short, 
as we trace the succession of writers from the earlier to the 
later ages, we find in the language a gradual decline, till it 
finally sinks into a dialect of broad Ohaldee. Then, too, 
what diversity in the march of ideas and range of imagery ! 
In the hand of Moses and Isaiah, the lyre is deep and loud, 
but its tone is soft when touched by David. The muse of 
Solomon is decked in the splendours of a luxurious court, 
while her sister wanders with David in an artless dress, by 
streams and banks, through the fields and among flocks. 
One poet is original, like Isaiah, Joel, or Habbakuk ; an- 
other is imitative like Ezekiel. Eays of learning beam 
from one, while his neighbour never emits a spark of 
literature. In the oldest writers, we see strong lines, of 
Egyptian tint, which grow fainter and fainter on the can- 
vass of their successors, and at last disappear. Finally in 
the manners, what a beautiful gradation ! At first, all is 
simple and unaffected, as in the poems of Homer, and 
among the Bedouin Arabs, in this day. By degrees, this 
noble simplicity declines into luxury and effeminacy, and 
vanishes at last in the luxury of the court of Solomon." 

Herder, the most celebrated writer among the Lutheran 
clergy of Germany, and a deeply religious man, says: 
" The best study of theology is the study of the Bible ; and 
the best study of this divine book is that which regards it 
as human ; I use the word human in its broadest compass 
and strictest meaning. The Bible must be thus read, for it 
is written by men, and for men. The language is human, 
the external means by which it was written, and has been 
preserved, are human." 

JEWS. 115 

There is a gradual improvement in the Hebrew Scrip- 
tures according to the period at which they were written ; 
though, as numerous fragments are, in some cases, collected 
into one book, it is often impossible to decide upon the date 
of individual portions. In the time of the later Psalmists 
and Prophets, the character of their sacred literature was 
at its zenith. Throughout these writings, frequent allusions 
are made to books not now in the collection, and probably 
entirely lost. Among these are The Book of the Wars 
of Jehovah ; The Book of Joshua, that is, the Righteous ; 
The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel ; The 
Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah ; The Pro- 
phecy of Ahijah; The Yisions of Iddo; The Book of 
Nathan the Prophet ; The Book of Grad the Seer. 

The following Psalm, without the author's name affixed 
to it, is generally considered one of the sublimest specimens 
of Hebrew poetry : 

"Bless the Lord, my soul. O Lord my God thou art 
very great ; thou art clothed with honour and majesty : 

"Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment; 
who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain ; 

" Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters ; 
who maketh the clouds his chariot ; who walketh upon the 
wings of the wind ; 

"Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flam- 
ing fire ; 

" Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should 
not be removed for ever. 

" Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment : 
the waters stood above the mountains. 

" At thy rebuke they fled ; at the voice of thy thunder 
they hasted away. 

" They go up by the mountains ; they go down by the 
valleys, unto the place which thou hast founded for them. 

" Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over, 
that they turn not again to cover the earth. 

" He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run 
among the hills. 


" The j give drink to every beast of the field : the wild 
asses quench their thirst. 

" By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habi- 
tation, which sing among the branches. 

" He watereth the hills from his chambers : the earth 
is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. 

u He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb 
for the service of man, that he may bring forth food out of 
the earth ; 

" And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil 
to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth 
man's heart. 

" The trees of the Lord are full of sap : the cedars of 
Lebanon which he hath planted ; 

" Where the birds make their nests : as for the stork, the 
fir-trees are her house. 

" The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats, and the 
rocks for the conies. 

" He appointed the moon for seasons : the sun knoweth 
his going down. 

" Thou makest darkness, and it is night, wherein all the 
beasts of the forest do creep forth. 

" The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their 
meat from Grod. 

" The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and 
lay them down in their dens. 

" Man goeth forth unto his work, and to his labour, until 
the evening. 

" Lord, how manifold are thy works ! in wisdom hast 
thou made them all : the earth is full of thy riches ; 

" So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creep- 
ing innumerable, both small and great beasts. 

" There go the ships ; there is that leviathan, whom thou 
hast made to play therein. 

" These wait all upon thee, that thou may est give them 
their meat in due season. 

" That thou givest them, they gather : thou openest thine 
hand, they are filled with good. 

JEWS. 117 

" Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled ; thou takest 
away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. 

"Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and 
thou renewest the face of the earth. 

" The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever : the Lord 
shall rejoice in his works. 

" He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth ; he toucheth 
the hills, and they smoke. 

" I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live ; I will sing 
praise to my God while I have my being. 

"My meditation of him shall be sweet: I Will be glad 
in the Lord. 

" Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let 
the wicked be no more. Bless thou the Lord, my soul. 
Praise ye the Lord." 

The following Psalm, by King David, is a sample of that 
devout contrition for sin, which peculiarly characterizes the 
Hebrew Sacred Scriptures : 

" Have mercy upon me, God, according to thy loving 
kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender 
mercies blot out my transgressions. 

" Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse 
me from my sin. 

" For I acknowledge my transgressions ; and my sin is 
ever before me. 

" Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this 
evil in thy sight ; that thou mightest be justified when thou 
speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 

" Behold, I was shapen in iniquity ; and in sin did my 
mother conceive me. 

" Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts ; and 
in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 

" Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean : wash me, 
and I shall be whiter than snow. 

"Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bone? 
which thou hast broken may rejoice. 

" Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine in- 


Create in me a clean heart, God ; and renew a right 
spirit within me. 

" Cast me not away from thj presence ; and take not thy 
holy Spirit from me. 

" Eestore unto me the joy of thy salvation ; and uphold 
me with thy free Spirit : 

" Then will I teach transgressors thy ways ; and sinners 
shall be converted unto thee. 

"Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of 
my salvation; and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy 

" Lord, open thou my lips ; and my mouth shall show 
forth thy praise. 

"For thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it: 
thou delightest not in burnt-offering. 

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken 
and a contrite heart, God, thou wilt not despise. 

" Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion : build thou 
the walls of Jerusalem. 

"Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of 
righteousness, with burnt-offering, and whole burnt-offering: 
then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar." 

Among the prophetical writings, few passages are consi- 
dered more sublime than the prayer of Habakkuk : 

"God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount 
Paran. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was 
full of his praise. 

"And his brightness was as the light; he had horns 
coming out of his hand : and there was the hiding of his 

" Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went 
forth at his feet. 

"He stood and measured the earth; he beheld, and 
drove asunder the nations : and the everlasting mountains 
were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are 

" I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction : and the cur- 
tains of the land of Midian did tremble. 

JEWS. 119 

" Was the Lord displeased against the rivers ? was thine 
anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, 
that thou didst ride upon thine horses, and thy chariots of 
salvation ? 

" Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the 
oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Thou didst cleave the 
earth with rivers. 

" The mountains saw thee, and they trembled ; the over- 
flowing of the water passed by : the deep uttered his voice, 
and lifted up his hands on high. 

" The sun and moon stood still in their habitation ; at 
the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of 
thy glittering spear. 

"Thou didst march through the land in indignation, 
thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. 

"Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, 
even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst 
the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering 
the foundation unto the neck. 

" Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of 
his villages ; they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me : 
their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. 

"Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, 
through the heap of great waters. 

" When I heard, my belly trembled ; my lips quivered 
at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I 
trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble : 
when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them 
with his troops. 

" Although the fig- tree shall not blossom, neither shall 
fruit be in the vines ; the labour of the olive shall fail, and 
the fields shall yield no meat ; the flock shall be cut off 
from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls : 

"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God 
of my salvation." 

The following are specimens of the high moral teaching 
of some of the prophets, and their bold rebuke of mere 
ceremonial routine : 


" To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto 
me ? saith the Lord : I am full of the burnt-offerings of 
rams, and the fat of fed beasts ; and I delight not in the 
blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. 

" When ye come to appear before me, who hath required 
this at your hand to tread my courts ? 

"Bring no more vain oblations: incense is an abomina- 
tion unto me ; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of 
assemblies, I cannot away with: it is iniquity, even the 
solemn meeting. 

"Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul 
hateth : they are a trouble unto me ; I am weary to bear 

" And when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine 
eyes from you ; yea, when ye make many prayers I will 
not hear : your hands are full of blood. 

" Wash you, make you clean ; put away the evil of your 
doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do evil. 

"Learn to do well: seek judgment, relieve the op- 
pressed ; judge the fatherless ; plead for the widow." 

" Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon 
him while he is near. 

" Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous 
man his thoughts : and let him return unto the Lord, and 
he will have mercy upon him : and to our Grod, for he will 
abundantly pardon. 

" For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are 
your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 

" For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are 
my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than 
your thoughts." 

"Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow 
myself before the high Grod ? shall I come before him with 
burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old ? 

"Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or 
with ten thousands of rivers of oil ? shall I give my first- 
born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin 
of my soul ? 

JEWS. 121 

" He hath, shewed thee, man, what is good ; and what 
doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love 
mercy, and to walk humbly with thy Grod?" 

The following are the predictions most frequently quoted, 
as prophetical of the Messiah's kingdom. The blessing 
which Jacob gave to his son Judah was supposed to point 
to that event : " The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, 
nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come ; 
and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." Moses 
was supposed to foresee the same, when he said : " The 
Lord thy Grod will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the 
midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me ; unto him ye 
shall hearken." The prophecies in Isaiah have been more 
quoted than any other : 

" For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and 
the government shall be upon his shoulder ; and his name 
shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, 
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 

" Of the increase of his government and peace there shall 
be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his king- 
dom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and 
with justice, from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of 
the Lord of hosts will perform this." 

" And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of 
Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots : 

"And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the 
spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel 
and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the 

"And shall make him of quick understanding in the 
fear of the Lord : and he shall not judge after the sight of 
his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears : 

" But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and 
reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he 
shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with 
the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 

"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the 
leopard shall lie down with the kid ; and the calf, and the 
Vol. IL — 11 p 


young lion, and the fatling together ; and a little child shall 
lead them. 

" And the cow and the bear shall feed ; their young ones 
shall lie down together : and the lion shall eat straw like 
the ox. 

" And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the 
asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cock- 
atrice' den. 

" They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy moun- 
tain : for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the 
Lord, as the waters cover the sea. 

"And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which 
shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the 
Gentiles seek : and his rest shall be glorious." 

"And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the 
book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, 
and out of darkness. 

"The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, 
and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of 

" Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in 
whom my soul delighteth : I have put my spirit upon him ; 
he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. 

" He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be 
heard in the street. 

"A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking 
flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment 
unto truth. 

" He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set 
judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his 

" I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will 
hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a 
covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles ; 

"To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from 
the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison- 

" The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me ; because the 

jews. 128 

Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the 
meek : he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to 
proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the 
prison to them that are bound ; • 

" To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the 
day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 

" To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give 
unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, 
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness : that they 
might be called Trees of Righteousness, The Planting of 
the Lord, that he might be glorified." 

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise 
unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and 
prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 

"In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall 
dwell safely, and this is his name whereby he shall be 
called, The Lord our Righteousness." 

The prophet Micah says : " But thou, Bethlehem, though 
thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee 
shall come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel ; whose | 
goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. And 
this man shall be the peace when the Assyrian shall come into 
our land. And they shall waste the land of Assyria with 
the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof. 
Thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he 
cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our 
borders. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the 
Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the 
beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of 

Until after the time of Alexander the Great, it seems 
most likely that the knowledge of Hebrew Scriptures was 
confined to the Jews. Prior to that period no extracts 
from them are found in the literature of other nations ; no 
allusion to them is made by cotemporary historians. Ori- 
ental scholars have searched diligently to find some indica- 
tions of their having formerly been known in India ; but 
no such trace can be discovered. About three hundred 


years before Christ, the numerous Jews in Egypt, having 
become accustomed to the Greek tongue, felt the inconve- 
nience of having their Sacred Law in a language which 
, few of them understood ; and a translation into Greek was 
made for their convenience. Concerning this translation 
Josephus and other Jewish writers told marvellous stories, 
which were believed and copied for many centuries. They 
said that Ptolemy Philadelphus, when he was collecting the 
famous Library at Alexandria, intrusted the business to 
Demetrius Phalereus, a learned Athenian, with directions 
to procure from all nations whatever books of note existed 
among them. Demetrius being informed of the Laws of 
Moses, advised king Ptolemy to send to the High Priest 
at Jerusalem for a copy, and for seventy-two Jews, six out 
of each of the twelve tribes, to translate the book into Greek. 
Messengers were accordingly sent with offerings for the 
Jewish temple, consisting of gold and silver vessels adorned 
with precious stones, and money to the amount of nearly 
one hundred thousand dollars, to be expended for sacri- 
fices. The High Priest having graciously received these 
presents, gave the messengers a true copy of the Law, in 
golden letters, and sent seventy-two learned elders to 
translate it. Ptolemy placed them in retirement on an 
island near Alexandria, where they completed the version 
in seventy -two days. It was called the Septuagint, which 
means The Seventy, on account of the number of transla- 
tors. When they compared notes, it was said they found 
they had all rendered the sense precisely the same, and had 
not varied from each other even in a single word, or turn 
of expression ; whence it was inferred that the translation 
must have been dictated by express inspiration of the Holy 
Spirit. When it was completed, it was read to a large 
audience, who remained standing all the time, out of re- 
spect to the Sacred Books; and then a solemn curse was 
pronounced on whoever should add to, or diminish from 
it. The king of Egypt, who had been among the listeners, 
expressed his surprise that no historian or poet had ever 
mentioned these wonderful writings of the Hebrews. De- 

jews. 125 

metrius Phalereus answered that the Hebrews, deeming 
their Law divine, had never dared to mix it with profane 
things; that a poet and a historian, who once ventured to 
allude to it in their works, had been punished, one with 
the loss of his senses, and the other with the loss of his 
sight. It is further related that the king sent the transla- 
tors back to Jerusalem, each with a cup of massive gold, 
three rich garments, and the value of two thousand dollars 
in gold coin. 

It is now the general opinion of scholars that this ac- 
count is a mere romance, probably invented by some Jew- 
ish writer, to exaggerate the importance of his country, and 
afterward copied and embellished by others. The most 
natural supposition is that the Septuagint was made by 
Alexandrian Jews for their own convenience. Plutarch 
relates that Demetrius Phalereus advised king Ptolemy to 
place' in his library the writings of lawgivers and statesmen 
of aZZ -.nations. If he acted upon this suggestion, the natu- 
ral result would be an application to the Jewish Sanhe- 
drim for a copy of their law. The Talmud states that the 
work was done by five translators ; and this is much more 
probable than the story of six out of each of the twelve 
tribes, when only two of the tribes were known to be in 

The Pentateuch alone was translated at first; but the 
other Sacred Books were gradually added, as it is supposed, 
at various times, and by various hands. Between the Sa- 
maritan copy of the Pentateuch, and the Hebrew copy, and 
the Greek copy, there are various discrepances. The most 
important are with regard to chronology. The Samaritan 
text makes the period between the Deluge and the birth 
of Abraham longer by some centuries, than the Hebrew ; 
and the Septuagint makes it longer, by some centuries, 
than the Samaritan. The Septuagint, or Greek version, 
places the creation of the world two thousand years farther 
back than the Hebrew version. These differences have/ 
never been satisfactorily explained. 

Jews of Palestine at first regarded the Alexandrian 
Vol. II.— 11* 


translation with strong disapprobation. The Talmud de- 
clares that a fast was appointed on the eighth day of the 
month Tebet, "because on that day, in the time of king 
Ptolemy, the five elders wrote the Law in Greek, and 
darkness came upon the world for three days. That was 
a sad day for Israel, like the day when the calf was made." 
Familiarity with the Greek language induced a taste for 
literature among Hellenistic Jews. Histories, poems, and 
theological romances, sometimes written in Greek, some- 
times translated into Greek, began to appear among them, 
and found many admirers. These books are now known 
under the title of Apocrypha. Some of them are puerile, 
others deserve to rank with the best portions of Hebrew 
literature. Several of them were inserted in copies of the 
Septuagint. The story of Susanna and the Elders, of Bel 
and the Dragon, and the Song of the Three Children in the 
Fiery Furnace, were added to their book of Daniel. Their 
version likewise contained three books of the history of the 
Maccabees. Jews of Palestine were more conservative. 
They generally regarded foreign literature with a distrust- 
ful eye, deeming its tendencies dangerous to the faith of 
Israel. Their reverence for books was very much influ- 
enced by the reputed age of the documents. They allowed 
none of these new books to be added to their canon ; and 
some of them they would not even consent to read. It is 
not supposed that Hellenistic Jews set up a separate canon 
of their own, but they always manifested a great predilec- 
tion for the newer writings. The oldest catalogue of the 
books deemed canonical by Jews is furnished by Josephus, 
who rejects all the later productions, because they were 
not written by prophets. His list is the same known to us 
in English translations. He says the Jews " did not dare 
to add to, or take from, or in any way to alter their Sacred 
Books ; for it was implanted in all from their birth, to rev- 
erence them, and abide by them, and cheerfully to die for 
them if necessary." In this reverential allusion he inclu- 
ded the Traditions handed down by the Eabbins. In the 
Preface to his History, called "Antiquities of the Jews," 

jews. 127 

he says : " I shall accurately describe what is contained in 
our records, without adding anything to what is therein 
contained, or taking away anything therefrom." After- 
ward he says : "I have delivered every part of this history 
as I found it in the Sacred Books." But in his account are 
many things to be found only in the Traditions. He says 
all living creatures, animals, and men, spoke one language 
in the beginning ; but God deprived the serpent of speech 
because his malicious disposition toward Adam had led 
him to use it for mischief; that the serpent had previously 
walked upon feet, but as a punishment he was afterward 
obliged to go rolling along, dragging himself on the ground. 
He assigns a reason for the great age which Hebrew re- 
cords attribute to men before the Deluge. He says it took 
six hundred years to complete one great Astronomical 
Year ; and it was necessary for men to live long enough to 
observe the position of the stars through all that period, in 
order that astronomical knowledge might have a basis. 
He says Adam predicted the world would be destroyed by- 
water and fire. His son Seth erected two pillars, one of 
brick, the other of stone, to resist the action of water and 
fire ; and on these he inscribed astronomical discoveries, 
that the world might not lose the benefit of his know- 
ledge. Josephus adds: "Now this remains in the land 
of Siriad to this day." He relates marvellous prophecies 
about Moses before he was born ; eulogizes his remarkable 
beauty ; says the king of Egypt made him general of his 
army ; that when he besieged the city of Meroe, the 
daughter of the Ethiopian king fell in love with him, and 
secretly offered to deliver the city into his hands if he would 
marry her ; which was accordingly done. After describ- 
ing his miraculous passage through the Eed Sea, he adds : 
"Nor let any one wonder at the strangeness of the narra- 
tion, whether it happened by the will of Grod, or whether 
it happened of its own accord ; while for those that accom- 
panied Alexander, king of Macedon, who lived compara- 
tively little while ago, the Pamphylian Sea retired and 
afforded them a passage through itself, when they had no 


other way to go. I mean when it was the will of God to 
destroy the monarchy of the Persians. This is confessed 
to be true by all who have written about Alexander." 

In ancient times there were several books extant on the 
Creation, and other subjects, which Jews attributed to Ad- 
am, Abraham, and other patriarchs. The prophecy of 
Enoch was very famous in its day, and was by many con- 
sidered an inspired and authentic book. It was for a long 
time supposed to be entirely lost ; but some fragments were 
found and translated into Greek. They treat of the influ- 
ence of the stars, and of a race of Giants produced by An- 
gels of God, who descended to the earth and cohabited 
with women. There was likewise a Book attributed to 
Seth, which is still in existence in Asia. It contains pre- 
dictions founded on the movements of the stars. These 
were supposed to have been originally written on stone, 
and saved from the waters of the Deluge. 

Not only ancient relics, but all cotemporary science and 
wisdom were supposed by Jewish scholars to have been 
necessarily derived from some Hebrew source. They as- 
serted that Zoroaster had been the servant of a Hebrew 
Prophet. Some said Elisha was his teacher, others Eze- 
kiel, others Daniel, others Ezra. There were several cen- 
turies between the first and the last of these prophets ; a 
looseness of chronology which indicates a somewhat un- 
scrupulous desire to trace Zoroaster's wisdom to a Hebrew 
source. When they became interested in the doctrines of 
Pythagoras and Plato, they affirmed that their ideas were 
borrowed from lost books written by Moses, who was 
master of astronomy, geometry, music, medicine, and occult 
philosophy. They excused their admiration of Aristotle, 
by asserting that he was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, 
and that his doctrines were taken from the writings of 
Solomon. From the same source they said Stoics derived 
their ethics, and Hippocrates his knowledge of medicine. 
Josephus constantly betrays this tendency to magnify 
everything calculated to reflect honour on his own coun- 
try. He says : " The sagacity and wisdom, which God 

jews. 129 

bestowed on Solomon, were so great that he exceeded the 
ancients; insomuch that he was no way inferior to the 
Egyptians, who are said to have been beyond all men in 
understanding. Nay indeed it is evident that their saga- 
city was very much inferior to the king's. He also ex- 
celled and distinguished himself in wisdom above those 
who were most eminent among the Hebrews at that time 
for shrewdness. He composed books of odes, and songs a 
thousand and five; of parables and similitudes, three 
thousand ; for he spoke a parable upon every sort of tree, 
from the hyssop to the cedar. In like manner also about 
beasts, about all sorts of living creatures, whether upon the 
earth, or in the seas, or in the air. He was not unac- 
quainted with any of their natures, nor omitted inquiries 
about them, but described them all like a philosopher. 
God also enabled him to learn that skill which expels 
demons; which is a science useful and sanative to men. 
He composed incantations also, by which distempers are 
alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using 
exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they 
never return. This method of cure is of great force unto 
this day. I have seen a certain man of my own country, 
whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were de- 
moniacal, in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and 
his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The 
manner of the cure was this : He put a ring that had a 
root of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon, to the 
nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon 
through his nostrils. The man fell down immediately, 
and he adjured the demon to return into him no more ; still 
making mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations 
which he composed. Eleazar, to demonstrate that he had 
such power, set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, 
and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to 
overturn it, and thereby let the spectators know that he 
had left the man. This was done, and the skill and wisdom 
of Solomon was shewed very manifestly." 

Some carried Hebrew exclusiveness so far as to maintain 


that the Apis of Egypt was worshipped in honour of the 
kine that appeared to Joseph in a dream ; that the Greek 
fable of Phaeton was founded on the miracle of the sun's 
standing still at the command of Joshua ; and that the ex- 
pedition of the Argonauts was a disguised version of the 
passage of the Israelites from Egypt to Palestine. 

This self-complacency of the Jewish mind found little 
sustenance from sources foreign to their own nation. Of 
no other ancient people was less said by cotemporaries, so 
far as we moderns have means of judging. Many travel- 
lers have supposed they found traces of their history in the 
graven records of Egypt. But there is in reality no al- 
lusion to them, except on one monument at Karnac, which 
represents Eehoboam, the captive king of Judah, among 
sixty -three prisoners of war, presented by the god Amun 
to Shishak, king of Egypt. That there is no memorial of 
their early residence in Egypt is not surprising, in view 
of the fact that they belonged to a servile caste, even in 
the days of Joseph, and were subsequently in the obscure 
condition of bondmen, or slaves. Herodotus betrays no 
knowledge of the Jews ; though some suppose he meant 
Jerusalem by Cadytis, a city in Syria, of which he makes 
incidental mention. It seems likely that they were very 
slightly known to any of the conspicuous nations, till after 
the time of Alexander the Great, when they mixed with 
Grecians and spoke their language. Josephus appears to 
have searched very diligently for traces of interest mani- 
fested in them by people of other countries, but the account 
he gives is rather meagre. Romans regarded the Jews as a 
singular and superstitious people, and had strong prejudices 
against them, because they found them such troublesome 
subjects. Juvenal, under the influence of this antipathy, 
ridicules them very severely in his satires ; Cicero speaks 
slightingly of them, and Tacitus says: "While the East 
was in possession of Assyrians, Medes, and Persians, they 
were the most despised among the subject nations." This 
national obscurity may easily be accounted for, by the fact 
that scholars had no inducement to learn Hebrew ; it being a 

JEWS. 131 

rude and scanty language, as must always be the case 
where there is no literature to express. Jews held re- 
ligious opinions which prevented development of the Arts ; 
and consequently they had no tasteful architecture, statues, 
or pictures, to attract the attention of travellers. Like the 
Hindoos, they were unwilling to eat or drink from vessels 
that had been used by foreigners ; and the many articles 
of food which they regarded as unclean placed obstructions 
in the way of mixing socially with them. They considered 
themselves contaminated by intermarriage with other na- 
tions, and cherished an aversion to them, which excited 
aversion in return. The degree of arrogance induced by 
the long-cherished idea that they were the only people 
chosen by God, may be inferred from the following state- 
ment in the second book of Esdras : "0 Lord, thou madest 
the world for our sakes. As for the other people, which 
also came of Adam, thou hast said that they are nothing, 
but be like unto spittle." Even the Hebrew religion, 
which is their crown of glory among the nations, was stern, 
lofty, and uncompromising in its character, little calculated 
to win the affection of strangers. 

Eomans, however, were tolerant of the religious customs 
of the Jews, as they were of all nations under their con- 
trol. When Alexandrian Jews represented to the emperor 
Augustus that his Greek subjects interfered with their privi- 
leges, and defrauded them of public money appropriated 
to the uses of their temple, he gave orders that they should 
enjoy their own laws, and be free to send their offerings to 
Jerusalem ; that whoever stole their Sacred Books, or their 
consecrated money, should be deemed guilty of sacrilege ; 
and that they should not be compelled to appear in the 
courts, or attend to any public business, after the hour 
of preparation for their Sabbath had commenced. The 
very nature of polytheistic religions led to a feeling of good 
fellowship toward Spirits that presided over other nations, 
whose power, for aught they knew, might be equal, and 
possibly superior, to that of their own deities. The em- 
peror Augustus manifested this feeling by ordering that 


sacrifices should be offered for his prosperity in the temple 
of Jerusalem. Such a disposition led to general facility in 
mixing creeds, which Jews alone strenuously resisted. If 
one of their own magistrates had returned the Roman com- 
pliment, by asking to have sacrifices performed for him in 
the temple of Jupiter, he would probably have done it at 
the peril of his life, from the hands of his own countrymen. 
When Caligula ordered, under penalty of death, that his 
statue should be placed in their temple, as was the custom 
in other temples, they answered that he must first sacrifice 
the entire Jewish nation, who were ready to be put to death, 
with their wives and children, rather than submit to such 
desecration of holy things. Their historians record, that 
when King Agrippa heard the sacrilegious proposition, he 
fainted away, and did not recover his senses for three 

Their steadfast faith in a conquering Messiah, who would 
certainly come and give them the empire of the earth, 
rendered them very turbulent subjects to a foreign yoke. 
Persons who thought themselves prophets, or professed to 
think so, were continually drawing the populace together, 
with promises that the kingdom of the Messiah was at 
hand, and God was about to show them signs of speedy 
deliverance. Disappointed again and again, the people 
were always convinced that it was on account of their 
sins, and they remained firm as ever in their patient en- 
during faith. 

They had their own high priests and nominal kings ; 
but the oppressive exactions of Roman governors and 
magistrates resident among them led to perpetual col- 
lisions. The restless hopes of the people broke out in 
frequent insurrections, sometimes accompanied by terrible 
massacres. In Cyrene, they killed twenty-two thousand 
Greeks ; in Cyprus, two hundred and forty thousand ; and 
in Egypt, a very great multitude. In their fury, they tore 
the bodies in pieces, and twisted the entrails for girdles. 
There were also continual dissensions among themselves, 
arising from the fierce altercation of sects, the competition 

jews. 133 

between Sadducees and Pharisees, and the recklessness of 
zealots, who set at naught the counsel of quiet citizens, and 
instigated the people to defy Eoman power, at all hazards. 
Bands of robbers, taking advantage of the unsettled times, 
infested Jerusalem. High Priests were thrust in and out 
of office by lot ; and when they offended the reigning fac- 
tion, their houses were fired, and themselves murdered, 
even within the sacred precincts of the temple. Finally, 
there was a general rebellion against Rome, which ended 
in the total destruction of the Jewish state, seventy years 
after Christ; when Titus took Jerusalem by storm, and 
demolished both city and temple. On this occasion, a 
prophet made public proclamation in the city, that if the 
people would go up to the temple, they would there receive 
from God miraculous signs of deliverance. Many flocked 
thither in consequence, and were burned up in the flaming 
edifice. Josephus says these calamities were preceded by 
many disastrous omens. u A star resembling a sword 
[a comet] stood over the city a whole year." When crowds 
were in Jerusalem, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, "at 
the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round 
the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright 
day time ; which light lasted for half an hour. At the 
same festival, a heifer, as she was led by the High Priest to 
be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the 
temple." The eastern gate of the inner court was made 
of brass armed with iron, and fastened deep into a solid 
floor of stone. It was immensely heavy, and moved with 
so much difficulty, that it took twenty men to open and 
shut it ; but " at the sixth hour of the night, it was seen to 
open of its own accord." "Before sunset, chariots, and 
troops of soldiers in armour, were seen running about 
among the clouds." At the feast of Pentecost, when 
priests went in the night time to the inner court, to perform 
customary sacred offices, "they felt a quaking, and heard a 
great noise ; after that, the sound as of a multitude, saying, 
Let us remove hence." A peasant, when he came up to 
Jerusalem to attend the sacred festivals, cried out : " A voice 
Vol. II.— 12 


from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four 
winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the Holy House." He 
began this cry four years before the war commenced, and 
he continued it night and day at the festivals, for three and 
a half years after. He was repeatedly scourged as a dis- 
turber of the peace, but still persisted in his lamentable 
cry. At last, as he was going round the walls, repeating : 
" Wo to Jerusalem and the Holy House," he added : " Wo 
to myself also;" and, at that moment, a stone from one of 
the engines killed him. 

The older and more cautious of the citizens saw it was 
vain to contend with Koman power, and besought the 
people to accept terms of capitulation, repeatedly offered, 
and even urged upon them ; but fanatical spirits prompted 
them to rely upon miraculous assistance. Some prophets 
said the light that shone in the Holy House was an omen 
of coming glory ; and the spontaneous opening of the great 
gate foreshadowed that Grod was about to open for them a 
way to happiness. Those who favoured submission to 
Rome were treated as traitors. Zealots rushed upon them 
and slew them, even on the Mountain of the Lord's House, 
so that the precincts of the temple were often piled with 
dead bodies. Josephus quotes several prophecies not con- 
tained in the accepted version of Hebrew Scriptures. He 
says there was a prophecy in their Sacred Books, that 
"Jerusalem would be taken and the sanctuary burnt, by 
right of war, when Jews should begin to slay their own 
countrymen in the city, and with their own hands pollute 
the temple of Grod." Another prophecy declared that 
Jerusalem and the Holy House were to be taken, " when 
once their temple should become four square." Jews de- 
molished a portion of the temple, to cut off the access of 
besieging Eomans, and thus rendered the building four 
square. Ancient oracles were disregarded in the fury of 
the hour, and even "laughed at as the tricks of jugglers," 
when they interfered with the prosecution of plans for 
victory. But Josephus declares that a prophecy was the 
origin of this disastrous war ; for their Sacred Kecords con- 

jews. 135 

tained an ambiguous oracle that there should one arise in 
Judea, who would obtain the empire of the world ; and 
interpreters declared that the appointed time had then 
arrived. He says: "The Jews took this prediction to 
themselves in particular, and many wise men were thereby 
deceived. Now this oracle certainly related to Yespasian, 
who was chosen emperor while he was in Judea." This 
explanation was so acceptable to the emperor, that he 
liberated Josephus when he was taken prisoner of war, and 
assigned him an apartment in his own palace. The suffer- 
ings of the inhabitants, during their long and obstinate 
defence of Jerusalem, were terrible beyond description. 
One hundred and ten thousand perished, hundreds of cap- 
tives were crucified by the Komans, and great numbers 
were sold into slavery. Many who escaped fled to Egypt 
and Babylon, where large numbers of their brethren had 
long resided. Others were scattered through various cities 
of the Eoman empire, where they shared the same privi- 
leges as other citizens. A small remnant remained in 
desolated Palestine. The golden candlestick and the 
golden table for shew-bread, were transferred to the 
Temple of Peace at Kome. The Book of the Law, and the 
veils of the Sanctuary were placed in the emperor's palace. 
An arch in honour of Titus was erected at Eome, on which 
are still to be seen sculptured representations of vessels and 
ornaments taken from the Jewish temple. 

The scattered exiles were forbidden to rebuild Jerusalem. 
About half a century after its destruction, the emperor 
Adrian built a new city, established a colony of Eoman 
soldiers there, forbade any Jew to approach within sight of 
the precincts, and erected a temple to Jupiter on Mount 
Moriah. This appeared to the Jews to be the abomination 
of desolation standing in the holy place. In answer to 
their excited state of feeling appeared a man, who an- 
nounced himself as the long-expected Messiah. He was 
called Bar-Cochebas, which signifies the Son of a Star ; for 
Cabalists among the Jews, in common with Hindoos, 
Egyptians, and Chaldeans, believed that Spirits of the Stars 


often assumed a human form on earth, for beneficent pur- 
poses. There was at that time a man of rank and learning, 
and a celebrated writer of Cabalistic books, named Akiba, 
whom Jews venerated so highly, that it was common to 
say God revealed to him what was concealed from Moses. 
Akiba declared that the prophecy of Balaam : "A Star 
shall rise out of Jacob," was fulfilled in Bar-Cochebas. He 
publicly anointed him King of the Jews, placed a diadem 
on his head, and followed him to battle, as his master of 
horse, at the head of twenty-four thousand disciples. They 
fortified themselves in Jerusalem, and for a time had rapid 
and brilliant success. Adrian despatched one of his ablest 
commanders, who, after a siege of two years, re-took the 
city, ploughed up the foundations, and sowed the ruins 
with salt. The severest penalties were imposed upon any 
Jew who should venture within sight of the precincts. 
Under the succeeding reign of the mild Antoninus Pius, 
Jews, though still excluded from Jerusalem, were in other 
respects restored to their old privileges. They were al- 
lowed to circumcise their own children, but not foreign 
proselytes. They were permitted to form establishments 
by themselves in various places, and enjoy municipal 
honours. They erected new synagogues in various cities 
of the empire, and publicly observed their fasts and festi- 
vals. It was not till three hundred years after Adrian's 
time, that they obtained leave to look at Jerusalem from 
the surrounding heights. At last, they purchased of 
Romans permission for pilgrims to go once a year, on the 
anniversary of its destruction, and weep over the ruins of 
their Holy City. According to the universal custom of 
erecting stones in sacred places, Jacob had set up a pillar 
at Bethel, as a memorial of the Lord's promise that he 
would never leave Israel, but would give them sure pos- 
session of Palestine. In after days of prosperity, this pillar 
had been removed to Jerusalem, where it was always held 
in great veneration. Pilgrims, on the occasion of their 
mournful anniversary, anointed it with oil, amid tears and 
supplications to the God of Israel. 

jews. 137 

Such frequent wars and dispersions were extremely un- 
favourable to the preservation of Sacred Writings. Driven 
from country to country, without a temple, a priesthood, 
or a civil government, Jews could not transmit, uncor- 
rupted, either their skill in Hebrew, or the explanations 
of learned doctors concerning obscure passages of their 
Sacred Books. Not only their correctness, but their very 
existence depended on the care of private synagogues. 
That they were preserved at all, under such circumstances, 
is owing to Jewish reverence for ancient traditions, and re- 
markable perseverance in everything connected with their 
religion. In the time of Christ, Aramean Chaldee was 
universally spoken, and only the learned could understand 
Hebrew. It was not allowable to read from any written 
translations in the synagogues; but from Ezra's time, it 
was customary to read in Hebrew, ;and interpret it, portion 
by portion, to the people. Schools were established, and 
it was considered necessary for every well-educated Jew to 
understand the Sacred Scriptures of his country in their 
original language. After the destruction of Jerusalem, 
this knowledge was preserved in seminaries established in 
Palestine and Babylon. 

In process of time, it was found that various errors had 
crept into the text of the Law, the Prophets, and the 
Hagiographa, in the course of numerous copyings. " Words 
had been mangled, and consonants removed and misplaced, 
in the most capricious manner." After their final disper- 
sion, the Jews appointed learned men to prepare a revised 
and corrected copy, to serve as a standard. In this work, 
they were guided partly by the authority of tradition, 
partly by their own judgment. They compared copies, 
and where they found differences in the reading, they in- 
serted one in the text, and put the other in the margin. 
With reverential anxiety to prevent future errors, they 
divided the books into verses, and numbered the verses ; 
they marked the words which they believed to be changed, 
the letters they deemed superfluous, and the different sig- 
nifications of the same word. They counted how many 
Vol. II.— 12* 


times the same word occurred at the beginning, or in the 
middle, or at the end of a verse. They even counted the 
letters, and recorded that the letter Nun [the Hebrew N] 
in the word Grehon, came precisely in the middle of the 
Pentateuch. This monument of human patience was called 
the Masora, and the learned doctors who compiled it were 
called Masorites. Notwithstanding all their care, the 
Masora was gradually brought into a state of great con- 
fusion, by successive additions and mistakes of transcribers. 
How far back the Oral Traditions can be traced, it is 
impossible to ascertain ; but the learned suppose that secret 
doctrines early existed among the Jews. They themselves 
trace them to Moses, and even to Adam. Whatever might 
have been the original source of these Sacred Traditions, 
they greatly increased in the course of centuries ; and the 
Eabbis, whose duty it was to explain them, found it neces- 
sary to assist their recollection by committing them to 
writing, under distinct heads. Disciples meanwhile took 
notes of their Commentaries, which, in process of time, be- 
came very voluminous. This led to so much confusion, 
that it was found necessary to make a Compendium of the 
Traditionary Laws, with the Rabbinical Commentaries 
thereon. " Eabbi Judah, the Holy," one hundred and fifty 
years before our era, was particularly active in making this 
collection, which is said to have cost forty years of labour. 
It is called the First Talmud, from a Hebrew word, signi- 
fying He has learned; likewise The Mishna, or Second 
Law. It comprehends all the laws, institutions, and rules 
of life, which Jews feel bound to observe, in addition to 
those contained in the Law of Moses. It consists of sixty- 
three tracts, collected in six books. This not being found 
sufficient to meet all difficult questions, that arose in the 
regulation of ecclesiastical laws and usages, Commentaries 
were added, nearly a century later, under the title of 
Gemara, meaning The Completion. The Mishna, with 
Commentaries by Palestine Jews, is called the Jerusalem 
Talmud. After the synagogues of Palestine were almost 
entirely dispersed, Kabbis who resided in Babylon gradu- 

JEWS. 139 

ally composed new Commentaries, which were completed 
about five hundred years after our era, under the name of 
the Babylonian Talmud. It is more bulky than its prede- 
cessor, but more generally followed, because it is considered 
less obscure. There is but one treatise on moral subjects in 
the Talmud, It is principally taken up with traditionary 
stories, abstruse doctrines, subtle controversies, civil regu- 
lations, and ceremonial rules. It is regarded as authority 
for all the affairs of life, great and small. It disparages 
agriculture and the rearing of cattle, requires the strictest 
separation from other nations, and commits the government 
to the Eabbins. It contains many directions concerning 
marriage and divorce. One party of Eabbins allow it, if a 
woman burns her husband^s soup ; but another party re- 
quire that some light conduct should be proved against 
her. It prescribes at what age of a tree the fruit may be 
eaten; how far" apart vines should be planted; when and 
where the poor may glean in vineyards and fields. Many 
of their distinctions are extremely subtle. Some Eabbins 
require that the morning prayer should be read as soon as 
there is light enough to distinguish blue from white ; others 
permit it to be delayed till the light is strong enough to 
distinguish blue from green. For the explanation of their 
Sacred Scriptures they have singular modes of interpreta- 
tion, by which any theory might be maintained. For in- 
stance, they assert that manna had the taste of fish, flesh, 
or fowl, according to the desires of those who ate it ; and 
they prove it by quoting the following text : " Through 
this great wilderness, these forty years, the Lord thy Grod 
hath been with thee, and thou hast lacked nothing.'''' 

From the law of Moses they deduce six hundred and 
thirteen precepts, divided into two classes; two hundred 
and forty-eight affirmative, three hundred and sixty-five 
negative. Of the affirmative, only three were considered 
binding upon women. To fulfil perfectly any one law, 
even in the hour of death, is deemed sufficient to secure 
salvation ; all that may be added to that is a stock laid up 
to increase felicity in a future life. 


These writings describe seven ascending degrees of Para- 
dise. Souls of the just made perfect inhabit delightful 
gardens, reaching the seventh region. Elvers of wine, 
milk, balsam, and honey, flow through these gardens. The 
inhabitants of the highest paradise perpetually contemplate 
the face of Grod. Hell, likewise, consists of seven apart- 
ments, where the wicked suffer from fire, serpents, and ex- 
cessive cold. Those of the Hebrew faith remain in these 
dreadful regions only long enough to be purified from their 
sins, and are then released by the intercession of Abraham 
and the prophets. Some of their writers speak of a bridge 
over hell, no bigger than a thread. 

In these writings, it is declared that Adam was created 
with a double body, male and female, facing opposite ways. 
Therefore, when God wished woman to exist separate, he 
had only to cut the bond that united them. Lilia was 
formed, like himself, out of earth; and' by her he had 
devils for children. Afterward, he married Eve, who pro- 
ceeded out of his head ; and she was the mother of men. 

The government of the world is represented as confided 
to seventy Angels ; one for each of the seventy nations into 
which Jews supposed the world to be divided. Besides 
these, every department of the universe, fire, water, wind, 
thunder, hail, forest trees and fruit trees, wild animals and 
domestic animals, had each a presiding Angel. Every 
individual plant had a particular Grenius to watch over its 
development. Not only every man, but every thought, 
feeling, and action of man, health, sleep, peace, war, love, 
hatred, had its director in the invisible world. The Spirit 
that guided the motions of the Sun had two hundred and 
ninety -six armies of angels subject to his orders. The 
angels who preside over each species of animals brought 
one of every kind to Noah in the Ark. 

Some classes of Spirits were kindly and beneficent, others 
malicious and destructive. Evil Spirits were originally in 
a state of innocence, but fell from it, because they were 
envious of the privileges bestowed on man, and were thus 
induced to rebel against Jehovah. Belial was prince of the 

JEWS. 141 

infernal regions. Beelzebub was the demon who sent tor- 
menting insects, and scattered pestilence with his breath. 
Samael was the seducer and destroyer. Asmodeus was 
the demon of marriage. Asrael was the angel of death. 
He releases souls of the good with gentleness, and the 
wicked with violence. Afterward, he sits on the grave, 
causes the soul to enter the body again, and raises it on its 
feet. He then examines the deceased concerning his faith ; 
after which, he strikes the body three times with a chain 
half iron and half fire. The third stroke reduces the body 
to ashes. All must undergo this "beating of the sepul- 
chre," as they call it, except those who die on the eve of 
the Sabbath, or have dwelt in the land of Israel. 

Insane persons, and those afflicted with fits, and other 
diseases, are said to owe their delusions and sufferings to 
Evil Spirits, who enter into their bodies and take posses- 
sion of them. A kind of Grenii are described, who were 
produced by marriage between Angels and the daughters 
of Lamach. They had wings, and foreknowledge of fu- 
turity, like angels; but they ate, drank, propagated and 
died, like men. Some of them were good, believers in the 
Law of Moses, others were infidel and bad. 

According to the Talmud, the scape-goat used to be 
dashed to pieces in his fall over a precipice ; but after the 
time of Simon the Just, he always escaped into Arabia, 
where he was eaten by Saracens. The piece of scarlet 
cloth appended to him always used to turn white when the 
High Priest had laid the sins of the people on his head ; 
but after the time of Simon the Just, it was sometimes 
white, sometimes red. This idea is the origin of the saying 
that sins like scarlet become white as wool. 

The belief, strongly impressed on Jewish minds, that the 
death of holy men serves as an expiation for the sins of 
others, is thus expressly stated in the Talmud : " Why did 
the sons of Aaron die on the Day of Atonement ? That 
ye may learn that as the Day of Atonement makes expia- 
tion for Israel, so also doth the death of the righteous." 

The resurrection of the dead to share the glory and hap- 


piness of the Messiah's kingdom is distinctly taught, but 
with the usual tinge of national exclusiveness \ for this re- 
surrection is to be confined to the Jews only. The Mishna 
says : " All Israelites shall partake in the life to come, ex- 
cept those who disbelieve the resurrection of the dead, 
[the Sadduoees] and those who deny that the Law came 
from Heaven." Rabbi Akiba added, "and those who read 
foreign books." Another Rabbi added, " and he who pro- 
nounces The Ineffable Name," [Jehovah]. 

The kingdom of the Messiah on earth is described by the 
Talmud in most excessive terms. It is asserted that the 
earth will then spontaneously bring forth garments and 
loaves of bread, so that there will be no need of labour; 
that the ears of corn will be of gigantic size, and one 
cluster of grapes will be large enough to load a wagon. 
On the top of a mountain, high as Sinai, Tabor, and Carmel 
piled on each other, there will be a New Jerusalem, 
adorned with gold, pearls, crystals, and precious stones. 
Such descriptions, repeating and exceeding the promises 
of the old prophets, greatly stimulated popular impatience 
to have the coming of the Messiah hastened. 

A tendency to vastness and huge exaggeration is a com- 
mon characteristic of Asiatic writings; but the Talmud 
seems to excel them all in this particular. One bird is 
described so large that his wings blotted out the sun. 
Another gigantic bird stands, up to the lower joint of his 
leg, in a river. Some mariners seeing him, supposed the 
water could not be very deep there, and were going in to 
bathe. But a voice from Heaven said : " Step not in 
there ! For seven years ago, a carpenter dropped his axe 
there, and it has not yet reached the bottom," It is also 
stated that a Rabbin once saw in a desert a flock of geese 
so fat that their feathers fell off, and the rivers flowed with 
fat. Then said he to them, Shall we have part of you in 
the other world, when the Messiah shall come ? And one 
of them lifted up a wing and another a leg, to signify these 
parts we should have. We Israelites shall be called tc 
account touching these fat geese. It is our iniquities that 

jews, 143 

Eave delayed the coming of the Messiah ; and these geese 
suffer greatly by reason of their excessive fat, which daily 
increases, and will increase, till the Messiah comes. Their 
sufferings are owing to us. We should otherwise have had 
all parts of these geese." 

Marvellous accounts of Moses are contained in the Tal- 
mud. It is stated that he was born circumcised ; that the 
daughter of Pharaoh was struck with leprosy when she 
touched his cradle ; that at three years old, he seized the 
crown from her father's head and put it on his own ; that 
while he tended the flocks of Jethro, he found a miraculous 
twig, which had been made on the sixth day of creation, 
and had inscribed upon it the holy characters which form 
the Tetragrammaton, by aid of which he performed all his 
miracles; that he married a princess of Ethiopia, and 
reigned over that country forty years. Stories of Solomon 
likewise abound. When the Queen of Sheba came to 
Jerusalem, attracted by the renown of the great king, she 
is said to have tried various experiments to test his cele- 
brated wisdom. One day she approached the foot of his 
throne, holding in one hand a wreath of natural flowers, 
and in the other an artificial garland. The imitation was 
so perfect, that Solomon, viewing them from the top of his 
throne, was puzzled to distinguish between them. His 
courtiers began to look blank, lest their monarch should 
forfeit his great reputation for sagacity. But Solomon 
knowing there were bees hovering round, ordered a win- 
dow to be opened, that they might come in. Many of them 
lighted on the natural wreath, but none on the artificial. 
Thus the Queen had another reason to admire the wisdom 
of Solomon. 

These writings recommend that the following benedic- 
tion should be recited whenever a Jew meets with a wise 
man of another nation: "Blessed be thou, Lord our 
Grod, Kuler of the universe, who hast imparted of thy 
wisdom to all flesh and blood." 

The Talmud is as unlike the ancient Scriptures, as the 
Pouranas of Hindostan are unlike the Yedas ; therefore it 


could not come into general use without in a great mea- 
sure setting them aside. In point of fact, the Traditionary 
Law has for many centuries been placed above the Law of 
Moses. Eabbins are enthusiastic in their praises of the 
Talmud. They say the Law in the Pentateuch is defective, 
often obscure, and could not be a perfect rule for them, if 
there had not been a complete oral interpretation, which 
supplied all defects, and solved all difficulties. That "the 
words of the Law are sometimes weighty and sometimes 
light ; but the words of the Scribes [who wrote down the 
Traditions] are all weighty; more lovely than the words 
of the Law, superior to the utterance of the Prophets. 
The Scriptures are like water, or like salt ; but the Talmud 
is like wine and sweet spices." In these writings, Jehovah 
is often described as High Priest, or Chief Eabbi. They 
say he spends nine hours in reading the Talmud, where he 
spends three in reading the Law. 

According to Eabbinical statements, there were four 
hundred and eighty synagogues in Jerusalem, each of 
which had a separate apartment for the Book of the Law, 
and another for the recorded Traditions. 

Babylonian Jews had Chaldee paraphrases of- their Sa- 
cred Scriptures, called Targums, which means The Most 
Excellent Yersions. Of one of these translators the Tal- 
mud savs : " Our Kabbins inform us that Hillel the Elder 


had eighty disciples, thirty of whom were worthy. The 
Shekinah dwelt above them, as it did above Moses, our 
teacher. Thirty were so worthy, that the sun might stay 
for them, as for Joshua, the son of Nun. The greatest of 
all was Jonathan, son of Uzziel. They say of him that 
when he was sitting down to work upon the Law, if a bird 
happened to fly over him, it was immediately burnt up. 
When he wrote his paraphrase on the Prophets, the land 
of Israel was shaken for four hundred parasangs. The 
voice of God came forth and said, Who is he that hath re- 
vealed my secrets to the sons of men ? Jonathan the son 
of Uzziel, stood upon his feet and said, It is I, who have 
revealed thy secrets to the sons of men." These Targums 

jews. 145 

sometimes make additions to the original text. In describ- 
ing the meeting of Jacob and Esau, it is said: "When 
Jacob fell upon Esau's neck and kissed him, Esau bit him 
severely. Bat Jacob's neck was changed to alabaster, and 
the fragments clung; to the teeth of his treacherous brother." 

As soon as the Jews had time to recover from the shock 
of their final dispersion, they gradually established a sys- 
tematic connection with their brethren throughout the 
world. Those settled in Chaldea and Persia were called 
Eastern Jews, They had flourishing Rabinieal schools in 
many cities. Until about seven hundred years ago they 
were governed by a ruler, chosen from among themselves, 
called Prince of the Captivity, who maintained a good deal 
of splendour in his court. Those in Palestine, Egypt, and 
various parts of Europe, were called Western Jews, and 
their head was known by the title of Patriarch. His office 
was abolished by Roman law, about four hundred and 
twenty-nine years after our era. The ecclesiastical affairs 
of Jews have since been governed by chiefs of their syna- 
gogues, called Primates. Their peculiar institutions with 
regard to food, and marriage, and the practice of circum- 
cision, everywhere keep them a separate people from the 
nations among whom they dwell. They cannot expect 
the fulfilment of the glorious prophecies, in which they 
still firmly believe, unless they keep themselves pure and 
unmixed descendants of those to whom the promises were 
given. Those who intermarry with foreigners are no 
longer regarded as Jews. Bemnants of the tribe of Judah 
are still in Spain and Portugal. They consider themselves 
of the ancient blood royal of David, in whose line the con- 
quering Messiah must come. Therefore they will not in- 
termarry with other Jews. If a Spanish Jew should marry 
a German Jewess, he would be expelled from the syna- 
gogue and deprived of ecclesiastical rights and privileges. 

A very small sect of Samaritans still exist, and Jews 
regard them with the old feeling of abhorrence. The only 
book which they revere as divine authority is the Penta- 
teuch. They can give no satisfactory account how they 
Vol. II.— 13 g 


came by a copy in the ancient Hebrew characters. Some 
traditions say it was brought to them by a wise and holy 
man named Nathaniel ; others affirm that it came directly 
from God himself. They reject the Traditionary Law with 
great disdain. 

A few of the sect of Karaites remain ; principally in 
Russia and Turkey. Jews regard them with extreme 

With the exception of this very small minority, modern 
Jews follow the doctrines of the Pharisees ; though that 
name has long been dropped. Like them, they have the 
greatest reverence for the Traditionary Law, contained in 
the Talmud. 

Many of their learned men consider the Cabala a sub- 
lime science, by the aid of which interior truths of their 
Sacred Scriptures can be discovered through the external 
shell of the literal sense. There are, of course, many vari- 
ations and shadings of belief among Jews of various na- 
tions, educated under the different influences of Europe, 
Asia, and Africa. A brief general sketch of their popular 
theoretic tenets may be given as follows : They all conform 
to the ceremonial Law of Moses, as far as is practicable 
under existing circumstances ; believing it to be immuta- 
ble and eternal truth. All classes consider the Talmud an 
inspired book, and a divine rule of life ; though some indi- 
viduals have much more respect for it than others. They 
believe in One God, who created and sustains all things, 
who alone has been from all eternity, is, and for ever will 
be. He foresees and ordains all things ; but evil is to be 
ascribed to the free will of man. In the name of Jehovah 
there is great power, and it is unlawful for any man to 
utter it, except the priest, when he pronounces the holy 
benediction. All souls were created at once, in the begin- 
ning of all things. Human souls existed in a happy state 
before they were sent down to inhabit bodies on earth. 
Two arch-angels rebelled against God, were cast out of 
heaven, and became the leaders of Evil Spirits. There 
are various classes of Spirits, good and bad. Some of them 

jews. 147 

cohabited with, mortal women and produced giants and 
devils. Grood angels have ethereal forms ; the bad have 
bodies consisting of air and fire ; they have influence on 
human affairs, and can communicate to men knowledge of 
future events. Kabbins affirm that they offer no worship 
to any of these Spirits, neither serve them as mediators. 
They suppose the fall of our first parents occasioned death 
and all calamities. Good works are entitled to reward, 
and the pardon of sins may be obtained by fastings, pray- 
ers, and bodily sufferings. The soul is immortal. After 
death, it wanders about for awhile, chiefly in the neigh- 
bourhood of its body, during which time it is tormented by 
demons, as a chastisement for its sins. After that, it passes 
into other forms, of men or animals. At the appointed 
time, there will be a resurrection of dead bodies, and a final 
judgment. The good will be sent to an eternal paradise; 
the bad to infernal regions. Jews will be tormented there 
long enough to purify them from their sins ; but they will 
all be released, through intercession of Abraham and the 
Prophets. The wicked, who belonged to unbelieving na- 
tions, must remain in hell for ever. The world will be 
destroyed, but the materials of which it is composed will 

Jews, in common with all other people, yield more or 
less to the ameliorating influences of time and education. 
Six hundred years ago, their celebrated scholar Maimon- 
ides openly taught that if an idolator happened to fall into 
the water, a Jew ought not to save him from instant death. 
Yet this great teacher was a learned and humane man, 
though his nature was so far perverted by an exclusive 
theology. Five hundred years later, the wise and gentle 
Moses Mendelssohn, " an Israelite indeed, in whom there 
was no guile," wrote thus: "Our Eabbins unanimously 
teach, that the written and oral laws, which conjointly form 
our revealed religion, are obligatory on our nation only. 
Those who regulate their lives according to the religion 
of nature and reason, are called virtuous men of other na- 
tions, and are deemed children of eternal salvation. He 


who leads mankind to virtue in this world, I certainly be^ 
Keve cannot be damned in the next. If a Confucius or a 
Solon were among mj cotemporaries, I could love and 
admire the great man, consistently vfith my religious opin- 
ions. Ashe does not belong to the congregation of Jacofy 
my religious laws were not legislated for him ; and on doc- 
trines 7 we should soon come to an understanding. I count 
among my friends many a worthy man, who is not of my 
faith. We love each other sincerely, notwithstanding we 
differ widely in opinion. Never yet has my heart whis- 
pered, Alas for this excellent man's soul !" 

In England, there are a numerous body of seceders, 
called Eeformed Jews, who adhere exclusively to the Law 
of Moses, and deny the authority of the Talmud. Many 
circulars have been sent abroad, warning orthodox Jews 
against such innovations. 

Through all changes, Jews have adhered to their ancient 
faith with remarkable tenacity, and zealously preserved 
a knowledge of the language in which their Sacred Books 
were written. To this day, they keep a Hebrew copy of 
the Law of Moses in all their synagogues. It is written 
on parchment, made of the skin of a clean unblemished 
animal. Nothing can exceed the correctness, equality ? 
and beauty of the writing. The slightest mistake in 
transcribing is sufficient reason for rejecting the copy. No 
word must be written without a line first drawn ; no letter 
must be joined to another ; if the blank parchment cannot 
be seen all round each letter, the copy is deemed imperfect. 
These rolls are fastened on cylinders, covered with embroi- 
dered silk, and placed in a chest, or ark. A highly orna- 
mented part of the synagogue is reserved for it, screened 
from the audience by a veil. It is brought out and carried 
back with great ceremony. The audience stand while it 
is read. Those who are near enough kiss it reverently, 
and hold up their children, who are taught to consider it 
a great privilege to touch it. Those of the assembly, who 
cannot approach very near, make an effort to reach it with 
their hand, which they afterward devoutly kiss. 

jews. 149 

The ancient rite of circumcision is still observed by- 
Jews in all parts of the world. Prayers are said over the 
infant, and the blood, which flows in course of the opera- 
tion, is mixed with wine, wherewith his lips are moistened 
three times. Children have sometimes died in consequence 
of this ceremony, but such an occurrence is very rare. If 
this happens to the first, second, or third son, children born 
afterward in the same family are excused j Rabbins having 
decided that the precept is not binding, if likely to occasion 
death. If a child dies before the eighth day, he is circum- 
cised at the grave, and a sign is erected in memory of him, 
' that Grod may have mercy upon him, and raise him at the 
day of resurrection. Because Elijah complained that the 
children of Israel had forsaken the covenant of circumci- 
sion, they call him the Angel of the Covenant. They be- 
lieve God appointed him to be always present, and see that 
rite properly performed. Therefore, on such occasions, 
they place two seats, one for the godfather, and another 
for the prophet, supposed to be always an invisible spec- 
tator of the ceremony. Yery devout parents sometimes 
lay their infant in the chair of Elijah, hoping it may be 
touched by him. 

Having no temple, and no High Priest, the ceremony of 
the scape-goat cannot now be appropriately performed. 
But in some countries, they take a white hen, which they 
swing three times round the priest's head, saying: "This 
shall be a propitiation for me." The fowl is then killed, 
while they confess themselves worthy of death. The en- 
trails are placed on the house-top, that some bird of prey 
may carry them into the wilderness, and their sins with 

When Jewish fathers are dying, it is customary to call 
their children together, and pronounce a formal blessing 
upon each, according to the example of Jacob. At stated 
times, descendants of Aaron pronounce the appointed bene- 
diction on the assembled people, with hands raised as high 
as the forehead, palms outspread, and thumbs joined, ac- 
cording to the ancient custom. 
Vol. II.— 13* 


They observe their religious festivals with as much 
ceremony as circumstances admit. They all feast at the 
Passover, and eat unleavened bread. At the Feast of 
Tabernacles they sit under green boughs. On fast days, 
they taste no food from daybreak till the stars appear. 
They never eat the flesh of any animal, unless it has been 
examined by a Eabbi, pronounced unblemished, and*killed 
by one of their own faith. Pork they never taste, regard- 
ing swine as the most unclean of beasts. On account of 
these peculiarities, the Jews' market is always kept sep- 
arate from other markets. They are scrupulous concerning 
the ancient customs of ablution, and never pray, or touch 
their Sacred Books, till they have washed their hands. 

They sustain themselves with the belief that Jerusalem will 
be rebuilt, and become the centre of a mighty empire. To 
this day, no Jew will consent to pass under the arch of Titus, 
at Rome, which commemorates the downfall of their Holy 
City. They still expect a Messiah to come and restore the 
kingdom of Israel. With patient humility they acknow- 
ledge that their own sins are the only cause of his long 
delay; but they cheer themselves with the oft-repeated 
promise that God will not be angry with his chosen people 
forever. It is a common belief that when Nebuchadnezzar 
despoiled the Temple and carried the people away cap- 
tive, Jeremiah caused the Tabernacle and the Ark to be 
conveyed to the top of Mount Sinai, where he hid them in 
a deep cave. And that the prophet declared they would 
remain there concealed till the Messiah came to restore 
Israel ; then they would be discovered and brought forth, 
and the Shekinah and the cloud would appear in the new 
Temple, and the sacred fire, which was extinguished by 
Babylonian soldiers, would be rekindled directly from 

Every Sabbath, Jews, in all parts of the world, repeat in 
their synagogues the old prayers : " Convocate us together 
by the sound of the great trumpet, to the enjoyment of our 
liberty, and lift up thy ensign to call together all of the 
captivity from the four quarters of the earth, into our own 

JEWS. 151 

land. Blessed art thou, Lord, who gatherest together 
the exiles of the people of Israel." " Dwell thou in the 
midst of Jerusalem, thy city, as thou hast promised. Build 
it with a building to last forever ; and do this speedily, 
even in our days. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who buildest 
Jerusalem." "Make the offspring of David thy servant 
speedily grow up, and flourish, and let our horn be exalted 
in thy salvation ; for we hope for thy salvation every day. 
Blessed art thou, O Lord, who makest the horn of our sal- 
vation to flourish." 

Those who are religious among the Jews are exceed- 
ingly devout. Three times a day they repeat the eighteen 
prayers which compose the most important part of their 
liturgy. They observe the Sabbath with very great strict- 
ness. They commence all books, or writings : " In the 
name of the Lord," or, " In the name of the Great God." 
They never destroy, or in any way desecrate, a piece of 
paper on which the name of Deity is inscribed. They re- 
peat a prayer when they first rise in the morning, and 
whenever they eat or drink. At the close of every meal, 
they use a longer form of thanksgiving, praying at the 
same time that God would have mercy upon Jerusalem, 
and restore the throne to the house of David. In many 
of their dwellings is a small apartment especially dedicated 
to silent meditation and prayer. Their highest expression 
of adoration is to prostrate themselves, with foreheads 
touching the ground. While engaged in their devotions, 
either public or private, they turn their faces toward the 
place where Jerusalem once stood. They have no musical 
instruments in the service of the synagogues, deeming it 
unfitting to their condition as a broken and dispersed peo- 
ple. Men and women sit in different apartments of their 
places of worship, the same as in the olden time. Children 
are very early instructed in their Sacred Books, and in the 
expositions of them by learned Rabbins. All learn to read 
them in the language of the country in which they live ; 
and those who have anything more than the common rudi- 
ments of education are expected to know Hebrew. In their 


schools, boys are taught to repeat from the Talmud, laws 
concerning betrothal, divorce, legal damages, priestly func- 
tions, and many other things ill adapted to juvenile com- 

As a people, the Jews have never risen to a very high 
degree of intellectual culture ; not from deficiency of 
talent, but because circumstances have discouraged a gen- 
eral attention to literature or science. Their forefathers 
disapproved of it, and some of the stricter sort even now 
question its lawfulness. Moreover, theological prejudice, 
that most hateful fiend of all the catalogue of Evil Spirits, 
has kept them continually under depressing influences, in 
the countries called Christian. Able men have risen 
among them, in all ages ; but, with few exceptions, their 
freedom has been fettered, and their mental energy im- 
paired, by perpetually walking in the tread-mill of their 
own traditions. They have expended an immense amount 
of labour and ingenuity on local controversies. Rabbins 
who might have made valuable discoveries in science, or 
been conspicuous in literature, if their attention had been 
thus directed, contented themselves with disputing about 
such questions as whether the pot of manna, and Aaron's 
rod, were laid up in the Ark, or before it. In modern 
times, however, literature has been much enriched by 
Jewish authors, several of whom have attained a brilliant 
reputation. King David's royal taste for harmonious 
sounds seems to have descended almost universally upon 
this people. They are everywhere distinguished as lovers 
of music, and several of the most eminent composers have 
risen among them. 

While polytheistic worship prevailed in the world, Jews 
never suffered persecution merely for religion, except under 
the reign of Antiochus. But after the Star of Bethlehem, 
and the Crescent ascended, and Jupiter disappeared below 
the spiritual horizon, they suffered persecution, relentless, 
universal, and prolonged, beyond all precedent. Their 
constancy and fortitude equalled their unparalclled wrongs. 
They endured every form of deprivation, suffering, and 

jews. 153 

death, rather than abjure the faith consecrated to them by 
the teaching of ages. They were banished from realm to 
realm, though guilty of no offence. Their wealth was 
seized whenever it suited the convenience of rapacious 
monarchs or magistrates, and the laws which protected 
others afforded no redress to them. Even personal safety 
was purchased at a high price, and the pledge of security 
thus dearly bought, was often violated. Their most sacred 
feelings were outraged, and boys in the street were en- 
couraged to hoot at men, whom a wiser education would 
have taught them, in many instances, to reverence. Even 
now, it cannot be said that enlightened Europe begins to 
do justice to the Jewish population; the best that can be 
said is, they are beginning to do less injustice. 

Under circumstances more intolerable than ever de- 
pressed the energies of any nation, this remarkable people 
have contrived not only to exist, but to flourish. The 
concentrated earnestness and perseverance, which always 
characterized them, became only more observable when 
confined to few channels. Excluded from other kinds of 
greatness, they became princes in wealth, and all the na- 
tions have borrowed of them. If the fiery ordeal through 
which they have been passing for ages, has often driven 
them to artifice and cunning, let the shame rest on those 
who left their disinherited brethren no other defence 
against the rapacity and violence of the powerful. They 
are everywhere a peaceable, industrious, and enterprising 
class of citizens. They adjust differences among them- 
selves, without troubling courts of justice, and are ex- 
tremely charitable to the poor of their own communion. 
Their women have always been proverbial for a high sense 
of personal purity. 

It is estimated that there are now about five millions 
of Jews in the world, scattered throughout Europe, Asia, 
Africa, and America. 






1 What education is for individual man, revelation is for the whole 
human race. Why are we not willing to consider all religions merely as 
progressive steps, by which the human understanding has developed 
itself in every time and place, and will still develope itself in the future ? 
Why are we not willing to regard them thus, rather than ridicule or hate 
any of them?'' — Lessing. 

The preceding chapters plainly show that theories con- 
cerning God and the Soul, the Creation of the World, its 
Destruction and Renovation, a Golden Age of innocence 
long past, and a Golden Age of holiness to come in the 
far-off Future, were common among all the nations of an- 
tiquity. A general resemblance in ideas on these subjects 
might be expected, because human nature is everywhere 
the same, and in all ages has had the same wants and the 
same aspirations, and been liable to the same infirmities. 
But there is not only a general likeness in these ancient 
traditions, there is also a close similarity in details, indi- 
cating that they were all transmitted from one common 
source, and adopted by different nations, with such varia- 
tions as naturally grow out of climate, temperament, and 
the social condition of the people. 

According to the light we at present have on the subject, 
Hindoos, Chaldeans, and Egyptians, seem to have been the 
most ancient nations. Which of them has the priority, 
and is the primeval source of theories we call Oriental, I 
leave for the learned to determine, if they can. All I aim 
to show is, that these Oriental theories, from some spring 
in distant mountains, have floated down to us on the tide 
of time, like the little boats laden with flowers, and illumi- 
nated by a lamp, which South Sea Islanders set adrift on 
the waters, to be wafted to Spirits in other regions. These 


flowers from the Past have scattered seed in our gardens, 
and scintillations from the little floating lamp have lighted 
the wax tapers on our altars, the chandeliers in our 

The Sacred Writings of Chaldea and Egypt are sup- 
posed to have perished utterly. Wherever the theories 
they contain may have originated, Hindostan is the place 
where the most ancient written record of them exists. 
Hindoos and Hebrews are the only nations of antiquity 
whose sacred literature has come down to our times in a 
tolerable state of preservation. In tracing the growth, 
extension, and intermixture of religious ideas, these two 
nations stand forth with peculiar prominence, as appa- 
rently the sources whence the world has derived most of 
its theological theories. The leading characteristics of the 
two religions are very different ; but their history presents 
many striking points of resemblance. Both nations were 
remarkable for the reverential preservation of their Sacred 
Books, through all manner of dangers and dim cul ties. In 
both cases, the dates and authors of different portions are 
involved in obscurity. In both countries, these ancient 
and venerated fragments were collected and arranged by a 
compiler believed to be expressly inspired for the purpose ; 
Yyasa among the Hindoos, and Ezra among the Hebrews. 
In both countries, these Sacred Books regulated the civil 
law, as well as the religious ceremonies. The growth and 
changes of society in both cases gave rise to innumerable 
commentaries, and the adoption of allegorical meanings, to 
enlarge the boundaries, when they were found to be too 
narrow. In both countries, the ancient Sacred Writings 
were practically superseded by newer ones, of degenerate 
character ; the Pouranas among the Hindoos, the Talmud 
among the Jews. Both nations considered themselves ex- 
clusive depositories of divine truth, and therefore polluted 
by intermixture with other nations. In both countries, 
there arose, in process of time, a great religious teacher, who 
grievously offended the established priesthood, by encourag- 
ing men of low degree to become instructors of the people. 


Both of these teachers displeased their exclusive country- 
men by manifesting a disposition to raise foreigners to the 
same spiritual level with themselves. Both admitted women 
among their followers, and both were characterized by an 
unusual degree of gentleness and benevolence. Both con 
formed to religious institutions established in the countries 
where they were born. The disciples of both were perse- 
cuted and driven from their native land. Both made more 
proselytes everywhere among strangers, than they did at 
home. Both became the founders of a new religion, whose 
basis was the religion of their forefathers. The teachings 
of Bouddha spread very widely in the East ; those of Christ 
spread nearly as widely in the West. 

Both Hindoos and Hebrews were eminently conservative 
in their character, prone to rely upon authority, strongly 
chained to old usages. Greece and Rome had quite an 
opposite mission to perform, but not less important in aid- 
ing the world's spiritual growth. The missions were as 
different as the centrifugal force of planets is from the 
central attraction, which keeps them within their orbits. 
Hindoos, Egyptians, and Hebrews were in all respects 
bound by their Sacred Yolumes; and they transmitted 
ideas to posterity solely on the authority of those holy tra- 
ditions. Strictly speaking, the Greeks and Romans had no 
Sacred Books ; for they had none, which they considered 
binding in any respect except the externals of worship. 
Philosophy, science, art, literature were all free from tram- 
mels ; and the laws could change as fast as the changes of 
society required. There is a very observable difference in 
the growth of nations where the civil law is included in 
their Sacred Books, and where it is left free to adapt itself 
to the progressive development of man. Society must 
grow, and Sacred Books cannot grow. Therefore, the effort 
to keep society within such limits is like confining a child 
of ten years old in garments made for one of five. How- 
ever elastic the clothing may be, there must eventually 
come a time when it is inconvenient to move in them, and 
impossible to grow. Hindoos and Hebrews were thus 


impeded in their progress, while Greeks and Romans were 
comparatively free from limitations. The Bast received 
upon authority, and expended intellect in explaining and 
defining that authority. The West investigated the causes, 
the principles, and the relations of things, and judged them 
by the light of reason. It became a saying, "Jews require 
a sign, [that is, a miracle,] but Greeks seek after wisdom," 
[that is, philosophy.] The large credulity of the Jewish 
mind was so observable, that when any thing exceedingly 
incredible was told, it became a Roman proverb to say, 
" Oredat Judceus /" "Let the Jew believe that." Ex- 
tremely reverential and extremely analytical tendencies 
of mind both have their dangers, but both are necessary 
and useful. It is the part of wisdom not to disparage either 
but to be thankful to God for both. 

As the world moved on, East and West, with their op- 
posite tendencies, came into contact by various successive 
changes of war and commerce. The nations acted and 
re-acted on each other. Old forms melted, and metals of 
various value tended to fusion, ready to be re-cast in any 
new image for which the mould might be providentially 
prepared. Meanwhile, society, by slow degrees, had been 
growing wiser and more humane. What degree of moral 
culture had been attained before the birth of Christ, may 
be seen by reviewing the sayings of Zoroaster among the 
Persians, of Confucius among the Chinese, of the Prophets 
and the Essenes among Jews, of Socrates, Plato, and Cicero 
among Greeks and Romans. 

The theological ideas, which had become universal before 
our era, will be more clearly perceived by a reviewing 
glance at the most prominent. Every ancient nation, of 
which any historical records remain, believed in One Invisi- 
ble Being, the Centre and Source of all things. Orientals 
conceived of him as inactive, serenely contemplating the 
glory of his own essence, radiating from himself all the 
vitality of the universe, by inherent necessity, not by any 
exercise of his will ; having no superintendence over cre- 
ation, no interest in the affairs of men. These views per- 
Vol. II.— 14 


haps originated partly in the prevailing Asiatic notions 
that anything like activity, or labour, was degrading to the 
character of a monarch. But a much stronger influence 
doubtless proceeded from the general idea that Evil was 
inherent in Matter. The human soul was unwilling to 
admit that the Supreme Being could be, in any way, con- 
nected with evil. Perceiving the material world to be full 
of apparent evils, men inferred that it could not have been 
! v produced by the One Pure Essence. Consequently, they 
imagined that a Great Spirit, or Power, emanated from the 
Eternal One, and by the agency of this Second God worlds 
were created. Hindoos named this first emanation Brah- 
ma; Egyptians, Amun; Persians, Ormuzd: all regarded 
him as the Creator. 

The religion of the Hebrews differed from other prior 
and cotemporary systems in representing the One Source 
of Being as himself the Creator and Sustainer of all things, 
by his own direct agency, and the active exertion of his 
will. But in later times, after their captivity in Babylon, 
and their settlement in Alexandria, when Oriental, Egypt- 
ian, and Grecian theories became mixed with the written 
doctrines ascribed to Moses, they also taught that God cre- 
ated the world by the agency of a Second Power, whom 
their writers called " The First Adam," " The Lord of 
Heaven," "The Wisdom of God," "The Word of God," 
" The First Begotten Son of God," " Esteemed the same as 

Hebrews and Persians are the only two ancient nations 
on record, whose religious laws forbade them to make 
images of Celestial Beings. Persians were taught to utter 
invocations to Spirits, as an important part of worship. 
But though Hebrews believed in a multitude of Spirits, 
they were required to adore Jehovah alone, and to con- 
sider him as the One, Eternal, Invisible, and Incomprehen- 
sible God. Whoever compares the two religions, will ob- 
serve several points of resemblance. There are no means 
of ascertaining what the Jews borrowed from Zoroaster, or 
what Zoroaster borrowed from them. The two systems of 


course came into close contact with each other, during the 
captivity in Babylon. Even if this were not admitted as 
the inevitable consequence of mixing two nations together, 
it would be sufficiently proved by the very Persian char- 
acter, which pervades Hebrew writings and traditions sub- 
sequent to that period. 

Some one has observed that "instead of saying God 
made man after his own image, it might be said man makes 
God after his own image;" and it is indeed an obvious 
truth that human beings give a reflection of their own 
characters in the estimate they form of Deity. Hindoos 
invested Brahm with their own love of contemplation and 
repose. The Chinese Chang-ti was exactly according to 
their pattern of a wise and beneficent emperor, passing hu- 
mane and salutary laws to promote the virtue and increase 
the happiness of his subjects. The Jehovah of the Hebrews 
was jealous of his own pre-eminence, exclusive in his care 
of one nation, prompt to exterminate those who kept back 
from him the required offerings, or transferred the glory 
of his name to another. He was a Leader of Armies, great 
in the slaughter of Philistines, a stern but placable Father 
to his chosen people. The Greeks, lively and intellectual, 
conceived of Deity as an active, enterprising, intriguing, 
and amorous being. Philosophers among them thought 
of him abstractly, as the Mind of the Universe. Some, 
like Socrates and Plato, rose to the idea of a Universal 

In nearly all languages the name of the Supreme Being 
signified Prince, Lord, or Euler ; because in the first stages 
of human society, Power is naturally regarded as the high- 
est attribute of the Divine Mind. The Chinese called Deity 
the Supreme Emperor. The word Jehovah is said to sig- 
nify eternity of being : I am, was, and shall be. But this 
holy name was uttered only in the temple, by the High 
Priest. In the , synagogues, it was read Adonai, which 
signifies Lord. Plato conceived of the Highest as The 
Good; and either from the prevalence of Platonism, or 
from some more ancient source, whence Platonism itself 


came, the word God is probably derived. In the Saxon f 
Swedish, and Danish languages, good is written god; in 
Dutch, goed ; in German, gut, pronounced goot ; in Per- 
sian, chod. In Saxon and Dutch, the name for Deity is 
God ; in Swedish and Danish, Gud ; in German, Gott ; in 
Persian, Choda, or Goda. It seems likely that the title of 
God and the Devil [D'Evil,] applied to the great contend- 
ing Powers, supposed to sway the universe, originated in 
the old Persian ideas concerning Ormuzd, the Prince of the 
Good, and Arimanes of Evil. 

Three was universally a sacred and mystical number, 
representing Deity in his completeness. One of the most 
ancient symbols in Hindostan and Egypt was a Triangle, 
with an Eye in the centre, to represent the All-Seeing. 
Hindoos represented their three great gods in one image. 
Egyptian deities were usually in Triads. Plato taught a 
Trinity of divine attributes ; Goodness, Wisdom, and Per- 
vading Life. Cabalists appear to have expressed the same 
ideas in Hebrew style, when they wrote of Jehovah, the 
Wisdom of Jehovah, and the Habitation of Jehovah. Hin- 
doos, Egyptians, Platonists, and Cabalists, supposing man 
to be an image of God, all represented him as a tri-une 
being, consisting of a rational soul, a sensitive soul, and a 
material body. In all countries philosophers and mystics 
expressed more or less vaguely that the Deity was One in 

It was a very prevalent theory, conspicuous in various 
religions, that the ideas pre-existing in Deity took form by 
the utterance of a Word. In Persian and Hebrew Sacred 
Books, it is declared that God spoke, and light sprang into 
existence, followed successively by all the other objects of 
creation. Persians called this Word Honover, and invoked 
him as The Great Primal Spirit. Hebrews called the Word 
Memra, and regarded him as a representative of Jehovah 
to the mind of man. With Hindoos, the creative Word 
was Aum, called Om. They believed it included within 
itself all the. qualities of Brahma, and reverenced it next 
to him. The general idea evidently was that the Word 


existed with God from all eternity, and when spoken, be- 
came a glorious Form, the aggregate embodiment of all the 
Divine Ideas, including them all within itself, and thus by 
development becoming God's Great Agent in the work of 

The first beings he produced dwelt in upper spheres, 
where they breathed the pure element of ether, as mortals 
breathe the air. Being nearest to the Source of Light, 
they received a larger infusion of his divinity, which was 
manifested in a greater portion of outward radiance. These 
qualities, interior and exterior, gradually diminished in 
degree, as the beings created were farther and farther re- 
moved from their Fountain of Life. The seven Spirits of 
the Planets, the first emanations from the Creator, were 
ethereal and resplendent, beautiful above all that succeeded 
them, endowed with a more comprehensive and pervading 
intellect. Each series of beings included the ideas which 
formed the next series below it ; so that each descending 
sphere was an attenuated likeness of the one above it. 
This regular system was carried down even to the earthly 
Adam, in whom was supposed to pre-exist all the human 
souls that could forever after take form in human bodies ; 
consequently, when he fell they all became infected with 
his sin. 

It was the superior sphere of ethereal and luminous 
forms, the manifested Ideas of the Divine Mind, which 
Plato called the Intelligible World, or the World of Intel- 
ligences. Of each and every Idea in that region of light 
our material world was a grosser embodiment, a degenerate 
copy. But the Divine Idea, to which every material ob- 
ject owed its life, attended that object through its whole 
existence. Thus the sun, the moon, the stars, every stream 
and every tree, had its attendant Spirit, and so had the 
soul of every man and woman. I suppose this archetype 
is what Aristotle referred to, when he said that man, beside 
his threefold union of a rational soul, a spiritual body, and 
a material body, was said by some to have " another soul, 
luminous and star-like." This soul dwelt in the World of 
Vol. II.— 14* 


Intelligences, but was spiritually present with its earthly 
copy, knew all bis thoughts and actions, attended him 
when the soul parted from the body, and gave in a record 
of his deeds to the Judges of the Dead. In allusion to this, 
philosophers were accustomed to exhort a man not to offend 
his Genius. The emperor Marcus Aurelius says: "Those 
who live in harmony with Divine Natures, are ready on 
all occasions to obey the commands of that Genius, which 
the Gods have given to every one, for his guide and gov- 
ernor." This celestial companion was doubtless the "de- 
mon,'' to whom Socrates so often and so reverently alluded ; 
and the same idea gave rise to the custom of swearing by 
the Genius of the Emperor. 

The Infinite and Eternal God was so far removed from 
finite comprehension, and so incapable of contact with evil, 
that a Second God was supposed to be his agent. But still 
this Creator was too high above human sympathies; and 
the soul sought to connect itself with him by intermediate 
agents. Reverence for his Irish, rank combined with the 
cravings of the heart to produce this result, Asiatics, 
accustomed to think it beneath the dignity of a kino- to 
transact the affairs of the empire in his own person, natu- 
rally attached the same idea to the Universal Ruler, and 
represented his government as administered by an infinite 
number of subordinate agents, of various gradations, en- 
do wed with intelligence in proportion to the importance of 
the functions they fulfilled. Hindoos, Persians, Hebrews, 
Greeks, all believed in a great company of Spirits, who 
mediated between man and the higher deities. They car- 
ried up the prayers of mortals, and brought down blessings 
in return. They taught men what religious ceremonies to 
use, and what atoning sacrifices to offer, in order to obtain 
remission of sins; and they interceded with the offended 
Powers to obtain propitiation. Generally, there was some 
one Spirit supposed to be pre-eminent in these kindly 
offices. Persians named Mithras " The Mediator." Caba- 
lists called the angel Metraton "The Mediator between 
God and man." They said he led the children of Israel 


through the wilderness, and gave the Law to Moses. Pla- 
tonized Jews, in Alexandria, described the Logos, or Word 
as " The Mediator and Intercessor between God and man." 
They supposed he appeared, under various angelic forms, 
to the patriarchs, that he dictated to Moses, and inspired 
the prophets; for it had then become 'a universal idea that 
no man had seen God himself at any time. 

The same tendencies which made men try to bring The 
Creator nearer to them, by the intervention of intermediate 
agents, naturally led them to worship the mediums in pre- 
ference to the higher Deity, whom they represented and 
served. Thus Brahma gave place to Vishnu, in various 
forms; Osiris eclipsed Amun; Mithras superseded Ormuzd; 
and Apollo received much more worship than Jupiter. 

Mortals, wandering in the dark, forever needing help, 
and craving sympathy from superior beings, took yet 
another step to link themselves with Divinity. They 
supposed that intermediate Spirits kept the higher Deities 
constantly informed concerning human affairs, and that 
those deities, except the Creator himself, occasionally as- 
sumed a mortal form, to assist mankind in great emergen- 
cies ; either impelled by their own compassion, or acting in 
obedience to benevolent injunctions of the Creator. It was 
also believed that pious human souls changed to Spirits 
of a higher and higher degree, until some of the most per- 
fect became one with God ; in other words, became God. 
While thus transmigrating through higher spheres of ex- 
istence, their uncompleted degree of goodness sometimes 
compelled them, by eternal laws of cause and effect, to 
return and serve a new probation on earth. In that case, 
their previous experiences in more exalted worlds made 
them men of larger intellect, quicker sympathies, and finer 
intuitions, than others. As repeated sojourners on earth, 
in various capacities, they became practically acquainted 
with all the sorrows and temptations of humanity, and 
could justly judge its sins, while they sympathized with its 
weakness and its sufferings. When they again became 
Spirits in higher regions, they remembered the lower forms 


they had inhabited, and felt a lively interest in worlds 
where they had previously dwelt. They could penetrate 
even the secret thoughts of mortals, though men could not 
so much as perceive the outward forms of those heavenly 
guardians ; according to the proverb : " The butterfly re- 
members the grub, but the grub knows nought of the 
butterfly." Having strong faith in all this, a belief natur- 
ally followed that Gods, and benevolent Spirits, with their 
all-embracing knowledge, and their tender interest in forms 
and places they had once inhabited, would sometimes vol- 
untaril}'- leave Paradise and descend to earth, on purpose 
to work, to surfer, and to die for mankind. Such was 
Crishna, an incarnation of the second person of the Hindoo 
Trinity. If a sinner, even at the hour of death, thought 
of him, and sincerely believed that he was Yishnu in a 
human form, it was deemed sufficient to insure salvation. 
The same mission of sacrifice for others was performed by 
a great and glorious Spirit, descended in the form of 
Bouddha. Having performed his labour of love on this 
earth, and descended to the lower regions, to instruct and 
encourage souls in prison there, he became one with God, 
by exceeding holiness, and ascended to the heavenly Para- 
dise, without dying. Thenceforth, he was regarded as God 
himself, and prayers were deemed peculiarly availing if 
offered in his name. In Egypt, Osiris was a God, a human 
benefactor, and the judge of all who died. There is no 
parallel instance among the Greeks or Romans ; but there 
also the idea of incarnation appeared under various forms. 
Gods descended visibly to the earth, and great men as- 
cended to the stars, where they were supposed to exist as 
demi-gods, or Spirits half way between human beings and 
the higher deities. 

As man the individual looks back lovingly to his child- 
hood, and remembers only its pleasures, so mankind have 
ever reverted to the infancy of the world, as a period of 
innocence and freedom. All the ancient nations had tra- 
ditions of a Paradise on earth, before evil came into the 
world. In that happy time, men were spontaneously good, 


knew truth, by intuition, lived in perfect equality, and had 
no need of laws, or labour. As the individual man is for- 
ever aspiring after happiness and perfection in some bright 
sphere beyond this existence, so mankind have always 
been uttering prophecies of a golden future for the world, 
when men would again live together as free, happy, and 
affectionate children of the same beneficent Father. Un- 
defined longings to realize this glorious idea of human 
equality and brotherhood were expressed in numerous 
prophecies, and in various religious customs ; such as the 
mingling of kings and peasants in Persia, and the exchange 
of places between masters and servants on the festival of 
Saturn in Rome. There is something touching in this 
proof that even in the youth of the world, the weight of 
humanity pressed so heavily on sympathising hearts, and 
its discords jarred so harshly on organizations delicately 
attuned. In most nations, a belief prevailed that the re- 
turn of the Golden Age would be brought about by the 
advent of a just and holy man, through whose agency all 
discords, moral and physical, would be harmonized, and 
the world restored to order. Hindoos believed such a per- 
sonage would appear among them, and bring all nations 
under guidance of the Bramins. Chinese expected a 
" holy one" would appear on their sacred mountain and 
bring all the world into subjection to the Chinese empire. 
Persians believed that such a deliverer was waiting to be 
summoned to their "land of light," and that when he ap- 
peared, he would convert the whole world to the religion 
of Zoroaster. But this expectation is peculiarly conspic- 
uous in the history of Hebrews. They had the strongest 
assurance that a prince and deliverer would come in the 
royal line of King David, who would exterminate all 
nations and individuals, except those who adopted the 
Jewish religion, and gave themselves up willing subjects 
to his government. This belief was so deeply impressed 
on the popular mind that it affected the whole character 
and destiny of the people. It made them blindly rash in 
their defiance of Roman power, led to perpetual insurrec- 


tions, and finally caused the utter destruction of their Holy 
City. Tacitus, Joseph us, and Suetonius, have all recorded 
that about the time of the commencement of our era an 
expectation prevailed generally throughout the East that 
an extraordinary deliverer would soon appear. 

From the remotest antiquity astronomical calculations 
were afloat in various nations concerning successive de- 
structions of the world by water and fire, and its subsequent 
renovation. All people had traditions concerning a great 
Deluge. Hindoos, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Chinese, Persians, 
Hebrews, Druids, and Scandinavians, all had prophecies, 
apparently derived from a common source, concerning the 
destruction of the world by fire, and its restoration to 
primeval beauty. In connection with this, was a belief 
that the great deliverer of humanity would establish his 
kingdom of heavenly order on the earth thus purified and 
renovated for his reception. 

All ancient nations believed in the immortality of the 
soul, always coupled with the idea of previous existence. 
Since all emanated from God, and was a portion of him, 
no soul could possibly die, not even the soul of animal or 
vegetable ; because it participated in the eternal nature of 
the Being whence it proceeded. Men saw that bodies died 
continually, and from that they conceived an idea that the 
soul, for temporary purposes, passed from form to form, 
each more glorious than another, until it arrived at the 
radiant and ethereal beauty of Spirits of the Sun, endowed 
with intelligence so vast, that the universe was more com- 
pletely open to their inspection, than the world was to mor- 
tals. As Spirits, by successive careers of virtue, ascended 
to higher and higher series of existence, they were sup* 
posed to pass from region to region of Paradise, each exceed- 
ing the other in marvellous beauty, adapted to the enlarged 
powers of its inhabitants. Koyal residences being the most 
magnificent mortal eyes had seen, celestial abodes were 
naturally imagined to be of similar, though transcending 
splendour. Hence they were described full of palaces with 
golden columns and gates of pearl, surrounded by bloom- 


ing gardens, and ever-flowing fountains of nectar. That such 
places really existed, and would hereafter be enjoyed by 
pious souls, was a subject of earnest and vital belief among 
the Hindoos ; a fact sufficiently proved by the large num- 
bers among them who, in all ages have eagerly sought 
death, in hopes of entering Paradise. It was natural that 
they should thus long for regions abounding with delicious 
fruit, flowing with milk, wine, and honey, inhabited by the 
wise and good, who there spent thousands or millions of 
years, according to their degrees of merit, enjoying all that 
was beautiful in sight or sound, singing praises to the Gods, 
and constantly increasing in knowledge. But it is not easy 
to imagine. why men deprived themselves of all pleasure 
in this world, and tortured their poor bodies, with the hope 
of becoming absorbed in the Universal Soul, which of 
course involved annihilation of their own identity. Yet 
those who entered upon a saintly career regarded such ab- 
sorption as a state of perfect beatitude, for the attainment 
of which it was wise to sacrifice every thing in this life. 
Egyptian monuments plainly indicate belief in ascending 
spheres of existence, through which the pure departed were 
led by starry Spirits, till they arrived at the realm of su- 
pernal glory ; while the wicked passed through descending 
spheres of degradation and misery. There is reason to 
suppose that they also regarded union with the Supreme 
as the highest bliss. The Druids had such assured faith in 
a life beyond the grave, that they actually loaned money 
on the promise of repayment in another world ; and the 
same thing is related of Buddhists. In Greece, the popu- 
lace seem to have been almost entirely swayed by hopes 
and fears of a temporal nature. But they believed that 
the souls of departed ancestors were living somewhere, and 
took a sympathizing interest in human affairs ; for they 
always invoked their aid in great emergencies. The beau- 
tiful conceptions of their poets concerning the Elysian 
Fields seem to have flitted, like graceful shadows, through 
the imagination, without taking strong hold upon their 
faith. Keflecting men among them expressed themselves 


on the subject with, timid uncertainty, often mingled with 
earnest hope, and lofty aspirations toward an infinite per- 
fection of being. Pictures of a future existence formed no 
part of the sacred literature of Hebrews. There are no 
direct and positive allusions to it in the books ascribed to 
Moses. It was not until after the return from Babylon, 
when the Persian language and ideas were amalgamated 
with their own, that the immortality of the soul and the 
resurrection of the body became subjects of dispute between 
different sects. When the belief did prevail among them, 
it was coupled with the prevailing oriental theories of pre- 
existence and transmigration. The allusions to the sub- 
ject, even in the later Prophets, are brief, incidental, and 
indefinite. The hope of immortality is so inherent in hu- 
man nature, the heart has so universally clung to it, ima- 
gination has invested it with such wealth of beauty, that 
the apparent absence of it among a people so devout is a 
singular fact, of which I have never seen any satisfactory 
explanation. Bishop Warburton, in his " Divine Legation 
of Moses," acknowledges the fact, and attempts to account 
for it thus : The basis of his theory is that no people can 
be restrained from sin without the fear of future punish- 
ment, and the hope of future reward, unless by the miracu- 
lous interposition of Deity. The Jews, being under the 
perpetual and personal guidance of Jehovah, were intended 
to be a miraculous exception to thi? universal law. There- 
fore, whoever transgressed among them was sure to suffer 
the consequences of his sin in this life ; or if he did not, 
his posterity could not escape from it ; and this was done 
to prove to Jehovah's chosen people that he was always 
present with them, watching all their ways. Moses, know- 
ing this was the Divine policy, purposely concealed his 
own faith in the immortality of the soul, and guided the 
people altogether by temporal inducements. 

The inhabitants of Asiatic countries were greatly troubled 
with poisonous serpents; and when they imagined what 
torments would be inflicted on wicked souls, they naturally 
supposed that they dwelt in regions infested with stinging 


serpents, and gnawing worms that never died. It was the 
general belief that these places of suffering were temporary 
abodes, merely intended to purify the soul from sin ; that 
purpose being accomplished, it would return to earth to 
serve another probation, and perchance attain to Paradise. 
Fire, being the subtlest of the elements, and the least con- 
nected with Matter, was supposed to be the most effectual 
for purification. Some passed through fire in this life, or 
passed their children through fire, as a baptism, or even 
burned themselves to death, to avoid the necessity of such 
a cleansing process hereafter, when it would be all the 
more prolonged for not being voluntary. Of course, with 
such ideas, fire was a predominant feature in their concep- 
tion of regions prepared for the wicked. Hindoos, Per- 
sians, Greeks, and Jews, all supposed sinners would be 
subjected to such purification. Persians believed that all 
Spirits, even the Devil himself, would finally do homage to 
goodness, and thus become happy. Jews supposed that 
the wicked of their own nation would be tormented with 
fire hereafter, but merely for purposes of purification. At 
the end of the world, they would be summoned to rise 
from the dead, and share in the bliss of the Messiah's 
kingdom. They generally supposed that other nations 
would have no resurrection. 

Hindoos made an exact calculation of the amount of re- 
ward and punishment appropriate to every degree of sin. 
If a man did more than good enough to save himself from 
punishment, it was so much earned and invested in Para- 
dise. Every additional prayer, every act of charity to 
pilgrims, or the poor, increased his stock. Therefore, the 
pious among them were greatly addicted to works of supere- 
rogation ; and the same was the case with Pharisees among 
the Jews. Hindoos also believed that the prayers, offer- 
ings, and almsgiving of one man might be transferred for 
the benefit of another. Consequently, they prayed, and 
did penance, and made offerings to the gods, and gave 
donations to the Bramins, and alms to pilgrims, for the 
benefit of departed ancestors ; believing that every such 
Vol. II.— 15 h 


act on their part helped to shorten their period of punish- 
ment in another world. Buddhists adopted these views, as 
they did most of the traditions of their native land. 

As soon as men conceived of punishment for sin, they 
began to seek some mode of escape from it by proxy. 
Blood, being considered the principle of life, was deemed 
an appropriate expiation, peculiarly acceptable to deities. 
Large and noble animals were more highly esteemed for 
this purpose than smaller ones. Therefore superb horses 
were sacrificed to the beneficent Spirit of the Sun, who, in 
many countries, was the most popular object of worship. 
Man, being the noblest of all animals, was the highest kind 
of sacrifice, and his blood was supposed to atone for a 
greater amount of sins than the blood of horses or oxen. 
Consequently human victims were offered to atone for na- 
tional sins, or to avert national calamities. Hence, when 
Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover, when each 
family offered the blood of a Paschal Lamb as atonement 
for sin, the High Priest said it was " good that one man 
should die for all the people." The idea that men might 
be forcibly put to death for the offences of others grew into 
the belief that he who voluntarily sacrificed himself might 
thereby expiate the sins of his whole family, tribe, or na- 
tion. Thus the Hindoo widow, who voluntarily burned 
herself on the funeral pile of her husband, was supposed 
thereby to atone for all the transgressions of his family and 
her own. The higher and holier the victim, the more effi- 
cacious the blood, and the greater the amount of sins it 
could wash away. Even when the Jewish High Priest 
died in the course of nature, his death was supposed to 
atone for all the involuntary sins the people had committed 
since the annual Day of Atonement. In great emergen- 
cies, kings sacrificed their children, and sometimes offered 
their own blood, to expiate the sins of the whole nation, 
and avert the wrath of offended deities. 

It has been already stated that the existence of Evil was 
ascribed to the imperfection of Matter. This sounds like a 
harmless abstract theory ; but it formed the root of many 


theological opinions, and has "had an extensive and powerful 
influence on human character and destiny. At a very 
early period, it introduced civil war into the house of life, 
by teaching men to regard the body as an enemy to the 
soul. Passions and instincts given for usefulness, and for 
enjoyment, were considered spiritual snares. A healthy 
body and a good appetite were hindrances in the way of 
holiness ; and to feel sexual attraction was yielding to the 
instigation of the Devil. In order to become angels, men 
tormented their poor material forms. They reduced them- 
selves to skeletons, by midnight watchings and prolonged 
fasts ; they scourged themselves till the blood flowed ; they 
tore their flesh with hooks, and burned it with fire! They 
spent their wealth in sacrifices, and their time in prayers, 
to atone for the sin of having any bodily wants. From 
this horror of natural instincts arose the traditions of 
various nations that their holy teachers were born of vir- 
gins ; that process being supposed necessary, in order to 
disconnect them with the alleged impurity of human pas- 

With regard to Evil Spirits, the growth of ideas seems 
to have been very gradual. In the beginning, there was 
no distinct and defined separation between good and evil 
in the minds of men. In Hindoo theology, the same god 
destroyed and reproduced, and was not supposed to be im- 
pelled by wicked motives in his work of destruction, any 
more than Nature is. In Egypt, the two powers were 
divided, but the malignant Typho was twin brother of 
Osiris the good. Zoroaster taught the doctrine of one 
powerful Prince of Darkness, who headed a legion of wicked 
subordinates, in perpetual warfare with the God of Light. 
The idea of one representative of evil, named Satan, did 
not appear in Jewish writings till after their residence in 
Babylon. A host of inferior Evil Spirits swarmed in all 
religions, and were everywhere supposed to produce dis- 
eases by taking possession of human bodies. Sudden and 
violent attacks of illness, such as insanity, or fits, were 
peculiarly attributed to their agency. It was the general 


belief that they could be expelled by invoking a Good 
Spirit, or uttering a holy name. In all the ancient nations, 
people were in the constant habit of resorting to priests 
and sanctified men to cast out demons, by reciting sacred 
words. And they nearly all had traditions concerning 
Spirits who rebelled against the highest Deity, were 
expelled from Paradise, and kept chained in lower 

Concerning miracles, oracles, and prophecies, a very 
singular mass of evidence is presented in the history of an- 
cient nations. One feature common to them all was, that 
unpremeditated speech was prophetic. Men were deemed 
inspired when they were unconscious what they uttered, 
being impelled thereto by a power beyond themselves. 
Even the sudden exclamations of insane people, or idiots, 
were in some places deemed prophetic. In all countries a 
certain degree of madness was considered a favourable pre- 
paration ; and it was a common thing to excite such frenzy 
by music. The Grecian Pythoness, before she uttered 
oracles, inhaled a kind of vapour, which put her into a ner- 
vous and bewildered state. Eecords from various and 
very different sources speak of men who prophesied in 
trances ; who could read the interior thoughts of others ; 
whose souls occasionally left their bodies for a while, and 
at such times could give information concerning the most 
distant places. Of the celebrated Sibyls, little or nothing 
is known with certainty. Their oracles were very ancient, 
and the reverence they excited for so many centuries would 
seem to imply something more than ordinary in their cha- 
racter. Heraclitus, who wrote five hundred years before 
Christ, says : " Their unadorned, earnest words, spoken 
with inspired mouth, reached through a thousand years." 

It is worthy of note that the most exclusive of all nations 
admitted that miracles might be performed, and true pre- 
dictions uttered, by worshippers of false gods. Balaam 
prophesied as truly as any prophet of Israel. Joseph us 
declares that an Egyptian correctly foretold the birth and 
destiny of Moses. He also says that the sea retired for the 


army of Alexander, a worshipper of Jupiter, as it did for 
Moses, a worshipper of Jehovah. The miracles said to 
have been performed by Egyptian Magi, in Pharaoh's pre- 
sence, are nearly as wonderful, and quite as difficult of ex- 
planation, as those performed at the same time by Moses. 
Jews explained the difficulty, by saying that their own 
prophets and miracle- workers received power from Je- 
hovah, while those of other nations received it from Evil 
Spirits ; and believers in each and every religion solved the 
problem by a similar process. The Sacred Books of all 
nations abound with miracles, which are sincerely believed 
by the devout. Hindoo Pouranas declare that a crocodile 
swallowed Crishna, and cast him forth unhurt. Hebrew 
records affirm that a whale swallowed Jonah, and after re- 
taining him three days, disgorged him safely on dry land. 
Hindoo Sacred Books tell of a fish that discoursed with 
Menu, and the Hebrew tell of a serpent that talked with 

In the childhood of the world, men understood little, 
and believed much ; the same as children do. The inter- 
mediate scientific causes of things were concealed from 
them, and therefore every unusual occurrence was regarded 
as a direct and marvellous intervention of the gods. If a 
hail storm dispersed their enemies, Hebrews said Jehovah 
" cast down great stones from heaven." If a man died 
from exposure to the sun, Greeks said, and verily believed, 
that Apollo had shot him with his golden arrow, in punish- 
ment for some offence. When any person was struck dead 
by lightning, Scandinavians believed that Thor, God of. 
Thunder, was angry with him, and had hurled his hammer 
at his head. 

De Wette remarks: "Miracles have their foundation 
partly in the narrowness of human knowledge, partly in 
the distance of time between the event itself and the written 
relation of it. Events, for a long time repeated orally, natu- 
rally become enlarged in the repetition." It may be justly 
observed of all nations, that in proportion as intellectual 
cultivation advances, .and thev are brought nearer to the 
Vol. II— 15* 


light of cotemporary history, miracles diminish, oracles arc 
hushed, and prophets disappear. 

The classification of human souls was an ultimate mani* 
festation of the same religious ideas which formed a hierar- 
chy of Spirits, of various ranks and degrees of intelligence. 
There are in human nature strong propensities to become 
merely animal, and it was the theory of caste that these 
propensities were realised and perpetuated in certain races 
of men. Human nature is also endowed with earnest aspi- 
rations to rise into fellowship with Divine Beings ; and this 
superior tendency, was likewise supposed to be manifested 
and transmitted by a peculiar race of men, who had re- 
ceived at creation a larger infusion of the Deity. It was a 
common and most devout belief, that the gods revealed 
their sublimer secrets only to the hereditary priesthood. 
Among this consecrated class were supposed to be some in- 
dividuals, who stood higher above the plane of humanity 
than others; men who had been "twice born," or "thrice 
born ;" who had become wise through experience of mani- 
fold forms of existence, and by prolonged residence in vari- 
ous regions of Paradise. Such were inspired poets and 
prophets, who uttered oracles, interpreted dreams, per- 
formed miracles, and received sacred laws directly from 
heaven. Their natures raised them nearer to the gods, 
than other mortals; and standing thus elevated, like moun- 
tain-tops above the earth, they received and reflected the 
first rays of celestial light, while all beneath them lay in 

We do great injustice to those men of olden time, 
whether priests or prophets, to whatever nation they might 
belong, if we suppose that they generally intended to de- 
ceive the people by fabulous legends, and miracles of their 
own invention. They had a much more positive and dis- 
tinct faith in the perpetual presence and active agency of 
Spirits, than we have. They found themselves surrounded 
with mysteries, which they did not seek to analyze, as we 
do, but, with child-like reverence, ascribed them to the di- 
rect influence of the gods. Had they witnessed the process 


Df taking a daguerreotype likeness, they would have be- 
lieved that it was actually done by the Spirit of the Sun, 
and that he had illuminated the minds of men, so that they 
understood how to prepare the plate and concentrate the 
rays. Supposing that all knowledge was directly imparted 
to human souls by Superior Powers, when they conceived 
of laws wisely adapted to the condition of the people, they 
doubtless really and truly believed that some god inspired 
their thoughts. That such inspiration might flow into 
their minds undisturbed by outward obstructions, they re- 
tired to the solitude of a cave, as Numa did, or drew nearer 
to the Divine Presence, as they supposed, by ascending to 
the summit of mountains, as did Zoroaster and Moses, 
That which came to them in their hours of contemplation, 
they reverently regarded as a revelation from above. We 
may call it superstition, if we please* but did it not em- 
body a great truth ? In all that we think wisely, or do 
well, are we not guided and inspired ? Ideas which have 
been imparted to devotional souls in all ages, are they not 
true in their essence, however various the forms they take ? 
We wake as from a sleep, and find ourselves on a sus- 
pended globe in the midst of the universe. Above and 
below, clouds enclose us. A magnificent phantasmagoria 
of ever-changing forms and colours circle round us. The 
tones of God's voice, by which the world was made, are 
echoed in the great mystery of music, forever suggesting 
what it never reveals. Perpetual whispers come to us 
from the unknown infinite. Processions march through 
our sleep in magic-lantern show, and we cannot understand 
what they are, or why they visit us. We are a miracle 
also to ourselves ; not knowing whence we came, or whither 
we are travelling. But through all time, voices of invisible 
ones have been whispering to listening souls that we are 
of celestial origin, and shall return to a celestial home. 
Those who have given utterance to the aspirations thus 
kindled within them are called prophets, and men cherish 
their names with affectionate veneration. They are bright 
stars to illuminate and adorn the darkness around us. 



Loving and solemn is their glance from afar ; but of them 
also, as of ourselves, we know not the whence and the how. 
Thus environed by wonders, which intellect is helpless to 
explain, which science carries only a very few steps farther 
back toward the Primal Cause, can we marvel that men in 
the childhood of the world verily believed all things mira- 
culous? They were like infants, who think a piece of 
paper moved by the wind is a living thing. We have out- 
grown that delusion, and have learned that paper is not 
alive, that it is manufactured from rags, and destined for a 
temporary use. But do we in reality know much better 
than they did what life is f 

In the prophecies and miracles recorded in the preced- 
ing pages, observing readers will notice several indications 
of the presence of what we call animal magnetism. Some 
of the ancient devotees of Hindostan gained great celebrity 
by discerning the thoughts of those who came into their 
presence, and by bringing tidings from a great distance in 
an incredibly short time. Sir James Forbes, in his Orien- 
tal Memoirs, describes a Bramin in modern times, who 
was distinguished for the same faculty. He divined what 
an English lady, resident in India, was thinking of her 
son, whom she had left in his native land. He told her 
what the young man was doing, and predicted what he 
would do ; and though it was quite different from her own 
anticipations, it proved as he had said. It is recorded of 
Egyptian priests that they cured the diseased by passing 
their hands over them. Balaam is said to have prophesied 
"in a trance, having his eyes open." Hyrcanus, the Jew- 
ish Prince and High Priest, told of a distant victory 
gained by his son, at the very moment that it occurred. 
Magicians and wizards were accused of travelling through 
the air, of being in two places at once, of telling the past 
and the future, and reading the thoughts of others. The 
soul of Hermotimus, the Greek philosopher, frequently 
left his body apparently lifeless, and wandered all over the 
earth, bringing tidings from remote regions, and foretelling 
futurity. The priestess of the Delphic oracle perceived 


that Croesus was boiling flesh in a covered brass vessel, 
though the secret was known only to himself, and he was 
hundreds of miles distant. That these phenomena were 
noticed by the ancients seems to be indicated by their 
general theory that man was endowed with an interme- 
diate substance between his rational soul and his body. 
They sometimes called it an aerial body, and sometimes a 
sensuous soul ; and they described it as having all of sen- 
sation in each and every part of it ; as" all eye, all ear, 
ancf all taste." 

It seems to me that these facts help to solve the pro- 
blem concerning oracles. The influence they retained 
over the minds of intelligent men, for so many ages, is 
difficult to reconcile with the idea that they were mere re- 
sults of trickery. Women were generally chosen to 
deliver oracles, and some of the anecdotes concerning 
them imply that they were of nervous temperaments. It 
seems most likely that those women were sometimes clair- 
voyant; and that the priests, judging according to the 
spirit of those ages, really believed their mysterious utter- 
ance came from the gods. But clairvoyants were of rare 
occurrence, and the demand for oracles was continual. 
Tempted by the rich offerings which inquirers brought to 
the temples on such occasions, the priests doubtless re- 
sorted to counterfeits, when they could not find the 
reality. They constructed sentences studiously enigmati- 
cal, and spoke from within hollow statues what the god 
himself was supposed to utter. Hence, the oracles de- 
livered were sometimes wonderfully true, at other times 
wholly false ; more frequently than either, utterly incom- 
prehensible. But the true oracles, though rare, sufficed to 
keep alive the general faith. 

We misjudge our brethren of the older world, when we 
suppose that their systems of religion were cunningly de- 
vised by priests on purpose to enslave the people. Every 
form of religion that has swayed the minds of men origi- 
nated in a sincere faith. They all began in earnest, taught 
much that was true, became sources of wealth and power, 



and then degenerated. The learned Schlegel observes: 
" The more I investigate the ancient history of the world ? 
the more I am convinced that the civilized nations started 
with a purer worship of the Supreme Beings that the 
magic power of Nature over the imagination of successive 
human races produced polytheism at a later period, and 
finally, in the popular belief, altogether obscured the more 
spiritual religious ideas; while the wise alone preserved 
the primeval secret within the sanctuary." He goes on to 
say that the mythologies of different countries were the 
most changeable and contradictory portions of religion ; 
varying according to climate, soil, and other circumstances. 
The wide separation between the views of priests and 
philosophers, and those of the people, which grew out of 
the maintenance of secret doctrines, had a disastrous effect 
on the character of nations. The most incoherent and dis- 
jointed traditions, the merest external ideas, the most 
degrading rites, existed in the same country side by side 
with the most sublime theories, and the most poetical 
allegories. Hebrew Scriptures contain several indications 
that this exile of the people from all sources of spiritual 
truth in Egypt had made a deep impression on the great 
soul of Moses. He started with the noble project of 
making the Israelites " a nation of priests." Swayed by 
his superior nature, they promised to do all that the Lord 
commanded; but even during his short absence on the 
mountain, they returned to the animal worship of the 
Egyptian populace, in which his own brother encouraged 
them. They offered sacrifices to the imag'e of the golden 
calf, a representative of Apis, and when the religious cere- 
monials were completed, they feasted on the animals sacri- 
ficed, and sang aloud, and danced naked, and made them- 
selves merry, as was the custom at Egyptian festivals. 
The indignation and discouragement of Moses was shown 
by his breaking in pieces the table of moral laws, which 
he had brought down from the mountain, and ordering 
thousands of the people to be sacrificed as an atonement 
for their sin. He also made proclamation ; M Thus saith 


the Lord, I will send an Angel before thee ; I will not go 
up in the midst of thee myself, lest I consume thee in the 
way; for thou art a stiff-necked people." The second 
time he went up the mountain to consult the Lord, he 
returned with another set of commandments, far more 
ceremonial in their character, as if made in adaptation to 
the external views of the people. Jeremiah seems to 
imply that Moses first tried to bring the people up to 
a higher standard than was afterward adopted ; for he de- 
clared : " Thus saith the God of Israel, I spake not unto 
your fathers, nor commanded them, concerning burnt 
offerings and sacrifices, in the day that I brought them out 
of the land of Egypt. But this thing commanded I them, 
saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye 
shall be my people ; and walk ye in all the ways that I 
have commanded you, that it may be well unto you." 
Ezra returned to the great idea of teaching all the people, 
which had been conceived by Moses. Every village had 
its synagogue, where the Law and the Prophets were pub- 
licly read and expounded every Sabbath, to women as well 
as to men. This was a grand and peculiar feature in He- 
brew history, and it deserves our reverence and gratitude. 

Even when the Jewish religion became a mere mass 
of ceremonials, so that prophets declared the Lord was 
weary of their burnt offerings, some souls among them 
preserved a degree of interior life, while they strictly 
conformed to the established ritual, by regarding it all as 
symbolical of high ideas. The spiritual-minded in all 
ages, and all countries, find some way to reconcile the 
most external formalities of worship, and the wildest 
stories in their Sacred Books, with their own conceptions 
of what is holy and true. The mistake we make is in 
supposing that our own religion is the only one that so 
adapts itself. At the gate of every Paradise, God has 
placed these flaming cherubim, which turn every way, to 
guard the Tree of Life. 

In order to do justice to ancient modes of thought, it is 
necessary always to bear in mind this proneness to invest 


outward forms with spiritual significance. It was con- 
stantly manifested in the worship of various forces of 
Nature, especially of Light. In several countries, there 
were two deities of the Sun ; one being the Divine Idea, 
from which the other was formed ; thus it became the 
Attendant Ferver, or Guardian Angel of the lower form, 
and embodied a much higher idea. In Hindostan, Surya, 
who drove the golden chariot of day through the heavens, 
was a mere subaltern, compared with Crishna, God of the 
Sun, and Source of Truth. In Persia, Mithras, the Spirit 
of Intelligence, as well as of Light, was far superior to 
Korshid, the visible luminary. In Greece, Helios was 
merely the resplendent orb of day, but Apollo was King 
of Intellectual Light, whose gifts were poetry, prophecy, 
and knowledge of medicine. That poets and philosophers 
worshipped Truth under the symbol of Light is very 
evident from many expressions of Plato ; from the morn- 
ing prayer of the Therapeutse in Egypt; and from the 
declaration of Hindoo commentators, that when they pray 
to the Sun, they meditate on the Supreme Internal Spirit 
of that heavenly orb, "who constantly directs the intellect 
of man toward the acquisition of virtue, wealth, and final 
beatitude." Doubtless the unreflecting crowd worshipped 
merely outward objects. But thinking minds everywhere 
raised their ideas to the souls within the objects. For the 
spirits who accompanied the Planets in their course, they 
had especial reverence ; believing that they surrounded 
the throne of the Eternal One, and took friendly interest 
in the affairs of men ; as we also think of archangels. 
Mortals everywhere crave mediums between their souls 
and the great inaccessible Father of All. 

Oh, never rudely "will I blame their faith 

In the might of Stars and Angels! Tis not merely 

The human being's Pride that peoples space 

With life and mystical predominance ; 

Since likewise for the stricken heart of Love 

This visible nature, and this common world 

Are all too narrow." 


The symbols by which different orders of Spirits were 
represented were doubtless very significant to the ancients, 
though they have become unmeaning to us. It is likely 
that the winged lions, bulls, and serpents, so common in 
Hindoo, Chaldean, and Egyptian temples, had reference to 
powerful Spirits, supposed to preside over those constella- 
tions. Perhaps the cure of diseases, and the preservation 
of health might be regarded as peculiarly the mission of 
Spirits in the constellation of the Serpent. It seems other- 
wise difficult to explain how such an animal came to be 
the universal symbol of Immortality and Wisdom. A ser- 
pen twas wreathed round the staff of ^Esculapius, and came 
to be the common sign of physicians. The Egyptian Cross 
signified Life ; but when twined with a Serpent it became 
the emblem of Immortal Life. In Hebrew, the same word 
meant a seraph and a serpent. To be wise as a seraph 
conveys a much clearer idea to the modern mind, than to 
be " wise as a serpent." 

With regard to symbols and ceremonies now regarded 
as immodest, and which in fact became so, in process of 
time, it has already been suggested that they originated in 
the comparative simplicity and innocence of the human 
mind, and in that state excited genuine reverence. Benja- 
min Constant says, very wisely : " The bad influence of 
licentious fables begins when contempt and ridicule are 
poured upon them. It is the same with ceremonies. The 
most indecent rites can be practised by a religious people 
with great purity of heart. But when incredulity reaches 
the people, such rites become the cause and the pretext of 
the most revolting corruption." 

From the evidence collected in preceding pages, it is evi- 
dent that no monotheistic religion has ever existed, if the 
word be taken in its strictest meaning. The doctrine of 
One Supreme God was common, but all believed in a mul- 
titude of Spirits, who were his ministers. The Persian 
religion strongly inculcated the idea of One Supreme Being, 
but it prescribed invocations to numerous Spirits, regarded 
merely as delegates and portions of Him. The Hebrew 
Vol. II.— 16 


religion approached nearer to a pure monotheism; but 
angels abound everywhere in their history, and the seven 
" great princes," with Michael at their head, of whom Daniel 
writes, seem very like the seven Amshaspands of Persia. 
It was the universal idea that the other nations were gov- 
erned by Spirits, subordinate to Jehovah. In the Psalms 
he is called "God of gods;" "Lord of lords;" "exalted 
above all gods;" "no other god can be compared with 

It has been customary to speak of the Hebrew common- 
wealth as the only theocracy, or god-government ; but the 
Ethiopian and Egyptian states were quite as decidedly 
theocracies. None of them ever undertook any important 
transaction without directions from the High Priest, which 
he gained by consulting the Deity in the temple, and re- 
ceiving an oracular response. The name of Amun does 
not excite reverence in us, as does the name of Jehovah ; 
but we must remember that it was otherwise with the 

We have perpetually done injustice, by forgetting that 
the religions of other nations did not appear to them in the 
same light that they do to us, who see onty the dried skele- 
tons of what were once living forms. We constantly com- 
mit the error of judging past things by the light of our 
own times, and our own opinions. We do not consider 
how their whole aspect would have been changed, had we 
lived in a remoter age, and been educated by a totally dif- 
ferent sort of culture. Hence, we approach our own sacred 
ideas and those of other nations from opposite points of 
view. What would otherwise be regarded as the puerile 
superstition of rude nomadic tribes, is magnified into alle- 
gory of high spiritual import when connected with our own 
religion. The ashes of the heifer burnt by Hindoos, how 
differently is it regarded from a similar custom among 
Hebrews ! If the Song of Solomon were in the Pouranas, 
how different would be our commentaries upon it ! Even 
human sacrifice, the most painful and revolting feature in 
the ancient religions, was softened and hallowed to their 


minds by the light in which t^ey viewed it. They sup- 
posed the victim expiated all his sins by being thus sacri- 
ficed, and that he went at once to Paradise ; thus they 
persuaded themselves that they were in reality doing him 
good, though by a painful process. 

Thomas Carlyle thus forcibly sums up all I would say 
on this subject: "We shall begin to have a chance of 
understanding Paganism, when we first admit that to its 
followers it was, at one time, earnestly true. Let us con- 
sider it very certain that men did believe in Paganism ; 
men with open eyes, sound senses, men made altogether 
like ourselves ; that we, had we been there, should have 
believed in it also." 

The willingness, and even eagerness, to endure martyr- 
dom, which is so conspicuous in the history of most reli- 
gions, is of itself sufficient proof that men were in earnest. 
In all ages, and in all parts of the world, how many have 
fought, and suffered, and died all manner of dreadful 
deaths, rather than deny, or desecrate, what to them seemed 
holy ! When the noble old Hebrew Eleazer was advised 
to save his life by appearing to eat pork, he replied : " It 
does not become the honour of my gray head to dissemble ;" 
and he stedfastly declared himself " ready to die, rather 
than mislead others by such hypocrisy." Yiewing the 
subject as we do, it seems a waste of life to die rather than 
taste of pork ; but in his eyes, it was necessary, in order 
to preserve undegenerate a religion received from heaven, 
requiring obedience to every item, for the safety and pros- 
perity of his nation. And ought we not to respect equally 
those devout Hindoos, who have suffered the lingering 
torture of martyrdom by hunger, rather than taste of beef? 

All fragments of truth which we discover out of our own 
religion, we are prone to call the results of unassisted hu- 
man reason. But reason, guided by humility and rever- 
ence, is never unassisted " Every good gift cometh from 
above." All the religions of the world flowed from the 
faith and aspirat >n inherent in man's nature, and which 
God assuredly ha not implanted in mockery of our weak- 


ness. They have all emitted gleams of light, reflected from 
a heavenly source, and adapted to the powers of recep- 
tion, God is not the Father of one nation only, or the 
author of one religion only. He has been gradually edu- 
cating the whole world from the beginning, as a wise 
earthly father educates his son. That which can be im- 
parted at five years old prepares the way for a greater 
degree of knowledge at ten. When he is twenty, ideas 
that helped his culture at ten are far removed from him ; 
yet their effects remain,, and form the basis of his manly 
mind. Truth does not change ; but its manifestation to 
mortals is limited by their capacity of receiving. Dr. John- 
son said: " Milton himself cannot teach a boy more than he 
can learn ;" and the same is true of the Infinite Teacher of 
finite beings. But u the child is father of the man ;' r and 
we should not be what we are in the nineteenth century, 
had not Hindoos, Egyptians, Persians, Hebrews, Greeks, 
and Romans, preceded us in the school of divine ideas. 
Let us then love and reverence them all, as elder brothers, 
who had fewer advantages than we have, and who all 
helped to procure us those advantages. 

It will be perceived by these remarks that I differ from 
those who think God has imparted of his truth only to 
Jews and Christians. I differ also from those who consider 
all systems of religion as impostures. On the contrary, I 
regard the religious sentiment as always and everywhere 
sacred. In all its forms, I find much that is beautiful and 
true ; in all, I find more or less of the alloy necessarily 
resulting from our imperfect nature and uncompleted 

" I can scorn nothing which a nation^ heart 
Hath held, for ages, holy: for the heart 
Is alike holy in its strength and weakness : 
It ought not to be jested with, nor scorned. 
All things, to me, are sacred that have been. 
And though earth, like a river streaked with blood, 
Which tells a long and silent tale of death, 
May blush her history, and hide her eyes, 
: The past is sacred. It is God's ; not ours. 

Let her and us do better, if we can." 



"Genuine Christianity, founded on the immoveable foundations of eter- 
nal truth, far from having anything to fear from comparison with other 
systems of religion, or philosophy, can only gain in the esteem of en- 
lightened men by the progress of the philosophic and religious history 
of the human race." — J. J. Bochinger. 


At the outset, Christianity was merely a sect of Jew- 
ish reformers ; Protestants against the corruptions of the 
priesthood of their day. The only doctrine to which assent 
was required was a belief that Jesus was the Messiah long 
promised by their prophets. This belief they sustained by 
his miracles, and by circumstances connected with his per- 
sonal history. The prevailing Jewish doctrine concerning 
the resurrection of the body, they regarded as satisfactorily 
proved by his appearance among his disciples after his 
crucifixion ; and they had undoubting faith that he would 
soon appear again on earth, to establish a holy kingdom, 
the centre' of which would be the earthly Jerusalem. 

Jesus had explicitly declared that he came not to do 
away the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfil them. He 
assigned the lowest place in the Messiah's kingdom to him 
who should violate even the least of the precepts of Moses. 
Accordingly, after his death, we find his disciples remain- 
ing strict adherents of the Mosaic Law. They went up to 
the Temple and prayed three times a day, at the customary 
hours; they observed the Passover, and other festivals; 
they ate the flesh of no animal which the Law pronounced 
unclean ; and they considered the rite of circumcision 
essentially binding upon all worshippers of the true God. 
Vol. U.— 16* 


At that period, Jews of all sects believed that the pro- 
phecies concerning their Messiah were soon to be fulfilled. 
When Jesus described the coming of " the Son of Man in 
the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory," he 
said ; " Yerilj I say unto you this generation shall not pass 
away, till all these things be done." The question : " Lord, 
wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel ?" shows 
how near at hand his disciples deemed the fulfilment of the 
prophecy. At his last Passover supper with them, he de- 
clared that he should not taste wine again, until he drank 
it "new in the kingdom of God." After his death, the 
vacancy occasioned by the treachery of Judas was supplied 
by the election of a new disciple ; it being necessary that 
there should be twelve, to "sit on thrones, and govern the 
C twelve tribes of Israel," when their kingdom should be re- 
f stored. There are many plain indications that they were 
constantly expecting Jesus to appear visibly in the clouds. 
They taught their proselytes that the destruction of the 
world was nigh, when the Messiah would come to judge 
the dead, and begin on earth a glorious reign with his 
saints. Thus Peter wrote to the converts in Asia: "The 
end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and 
watch unto prayer." " The day of the Lord will come as a 
thief in the night ; in the which the heavens shall pass 
away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with 
fervent heat ; the earth also, and the works that are therein, 
shall be burnt up. Nevertheless, we, according to his 
promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein 
dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that 
ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found 
of him in peace, without spot and blameless." 

The term apostles is derived from a Greek word, signi- 
fying to send. Those whom Jesus sent abroad to teach 
were simple, illiterate men, of humble origin, who gained 
their livelihood by fishing, and other laborious occupations. 
Among men of that class, a knowledge of writing was very 
rare at that period of the world, and those who resided in 
Judea would almost unavoidably be generally ignorant of 


foreign languages. But when they, and others who be- 
lieved on Jesus, assembled together, soon after his death, 
on the day of Pentecost, it is recorded that "there was a 
sound from heaven, as of a mighty rushing wind, and 
cloven tongues, like as of fire appeared and sat upon each 
of them." Whereupon, they immediately received the 
gift of speaking all languages; and Greeks, Persians, 
Egyptians, Arabians, who were present at Jerusalem, were 
astonished to hear those ignorant Galileans speaking to 
every man in his own tongue. Peter seized the occasion 
to urge this miracle as one of the promised precursors of 
the Messiah's kingdom, and a proof that it was nigh at 
hand. Jesus had said, during his lifetime, that he had 
many things to tell them, which they were not qualified 
to receive ; and he had promised to send his Spirit, 
who would teach them all things. It was believed that 
this Holy Spirit descended upon them in the form of 
flaming tongues, and by the supernatural power thus im- 
parted they were thenceforth perfect mediums of divine 
truth. The number of believers at that time were only 
one hundred and twenty ; but this great miracle drew 
multitudes round them, and it is stated that three thousand 
converts were baptized in one day, in consequence pf 
Peter's fervent exhortations. " The number of disciples 
multiplied in Jerusalem greatly, and a great company of 
the priests were obedient to the faith." The rapid growth 
of a new sect, so poor and despised, naturally aroused the 
jealous animosity of old established sects. The wrath thus 
excited fell principally on Stephen, a preacher "full of 
faith and power, who did great wonders and miracles 
among the people." They accused him of speaking 
"blasphemous words against Moses and against God;" 
and doubtless it really appeared so to men educated in un- 
questioning reverence for old laws and traditions. A mob 
cast him out of Jerusalem, and stoned him to death. With 
his dying breath, he prayed to the Lord not to lay this sin 
to their charge. This sublime spirit of forgiveness attracted 
new proselytes. Persecution waxed hotter and hotter, and 


the believers were scattered abroad, many of them into 
foreign cities. 

Soon after this, the number of apostles was increased by 
the miraculous conversion of Paul, a learned Jew, of the 
tribe of Benjamin, who ha,d been educated a strict Pharisee. 
When the heretical sect founded by Jesus began to emerge 
from obscurity, in consequence of increasing numbers, he 
was zealous in persecuting its teachers. He was hastening 
on such a mission, when he was struck blind by a sudden 
light from heaven, and heard the voice of Jesus remon- 
strating with him for the course he was pursuing. In 
consequence of this, he began to preach the new doctrine 
with extraordinary boldness and power. He encountered 
innumerable perils, but, like the other apostles, he was 
sustained through them all, by a strong belief in the im- 
mediate coming of Jesus, to establish the Messiah's kinodom. 
He expresses it thus unequivocally in a letter addressed to 
his converts: "The Lord himself shall descend from 
heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, 
and with the trump of (rod. The dead in Christ shall rise 
first. Then we who are alive and remain, shall be caught 
up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in 
the air." 

The Oriental doctrine that Matter was the source of all 
evil never formed a part of Jewish theology ; hence they 
do not appear to have held the body in such hatred and 
contempt, as did the devout of many other ancient nations. 
Their Sacred Books contain no eulogiums upon virginity ; 
on the contrary, they indicate that a numerous family was 
always regarded as an honour and a blessing. Their Hi oh 
Priests married ; and the only tendency to Oriental ideas 
on this subject is seen in the requisition that they should 
live apart from their wives while ministering in the temple, 
during the holiest seasons. Nothing approaching to asce- 
ticism on this subject is discoverable in the teaching of 
Jesus. His allusions to marriage are slight, but they imply 
approbation of that institution, and urge its sacred ness. 
He and his mother are also mentioned as present at a wed- 


iing, where he miraculously changed water into wine for 
the guests assembled to celebrate the event. A transition 
state of feeling on this subject is first indicated in the 
preaching of Paul, who seems to answer queries that had 
arisen, among his Grentile converts, whether a state of 
celibacy were essential to holiness. He leaves the question 
open ; simply remarking that those who remained unmar- 
ried, like himself, did better than those who married. Both 
Matthew and Paul, in their writings, allude to Peter's wife ; 
and, according to traditions of the early Christian Fathers, 
several of the apostles were married men. They say 
Peter, in his missionary travels, was accompanied- by his 
wife and a beautiful daughter, named Petronilla ; both of 
whom died martyrs to the Christian religion. Bartholo- 
mew, and Philip, are said to have been married ; and 
several daughters of the latter are mentioned. It is also 
recorded that the apostle Jude had two grandsons. 

The biographers of Jesus declare, that just before he as- 
cended into heaven, he promised his disciples that they, 
and all others who believed on him, should be enabled to 
work miracles ; that they should handle serpents and take 
poison without injury, heal the sick, cast out devils, and 
speak languages they never learned ; and we find all these 
miracles recorded of them. They perceived the secret 
thoughts of men, healed those who were born lame, cast 
oat devils, and restored the dead to life. When some of 
them were imprisoned, their dungeons were illuminated by 
angel visiters, who came and let them out by night. They 
passed the sentinels invisibly, and doors and gates opened 
of their own accord. When magistrates sent in the morn- 
ing to bring them to trial, the doors were found locked, 
and the sentinels at their post, but the prisoners had 
vanished. When Paul and Barnabas landed on the island 
of Malta, venomous vipers fastened on their hands, and 
people expected to see them fall down dead. When they 
shook off the reptiles and remained unharmed, they be- 
lieved them to be miracle-workers, and brought sick 
people to them, who were cured as soon as they laid theii 


hands upon them and prayed. The idea of Deities in 
human forms was so familiar to the popular mind, that 
when the inhabitants of Malta saw these wonderful works, 
they at once exclaimed that Barnabas was Jupiter, and 
Paul was Mercury. Priests came to worship them, bring- 
ing oxen and garlands ; but they forbade it, assuring them 
that they were merely men. It is recorded that not only 
the apostles themselves, but their garments also were in- 
vested with miraculous power ; so that the diseased were 
immediately healed, and devils departed from them, if a 
handkerchief was brought to them from Paul. The sick 
were placed on couches in the street, that they might be 
cured by the shadow of Peter falling on them as he passed. 
"When Jewish exorcists attempted to expel devils by com- 
manding them to depart in the name of Jesus, the Evil 
Spirits fell upon them and wounded them, exclaiming: 
"Jesus we know, and Paul we know; but who are ye?" 
When the apostles baptized converts, and laid their hands 
on them, the Holy Spirit was imparted to them by the pro- 
cess, so that they also could speak unknown languages, and 
perform other miracles. 

The first converts to the new doctrine were Jews ; some 
of them Palestine Jews, who spoke the Aramaean or 
Syro-Chaldean language ; others were Western, or Helle- 
nistic Jews, who were scattered through various provinces 
of the Eoman empire, and spoke Greek. The latter class 
of converts were far more numerous than the former ; be- 
cause the necessity of mingling with foreign nations had 
already accustomed them to modify their ancient opinions. 
Nevertheless, in the beginning, Christianity was unavoid- 
ably somewhat national and exclusive in its character, 
being preached by Jews and addressed to Jews. The 
church at Jerusalem resisted changes much longer than 
other churches. But even those who became mixed with 
Gentile converts in Antioch, Ephesus, Alexandria, Eome, 
and other foreign cities, found it very difficult to disem- 
barrass themselves of the idea that the religion taught by 
their Messiah was for the house of Israel only ; and that if 


others wished to embrace it, they must first become Jews. 
Paul had far less of this feeling than any other of the 
earliest Christian teachers, having received a superior edu 
cation, and associated more with foreigners. Yet even he, 
when he took Timothy with him to preach in regions 
where many Jews resided, deemed it prudent that he should 
be circumcised, because it was known that his father was a 
Greek. At the commencement of Paul's missionary la- 
bours, in all the cities he visited, he first attempted to teach 
in the synagogues, and a large majority of his hearers op- 
posed him violently. Finding his efforts to convert the 
Jews at Corinth were nearly in vain, he said : " Your blood 
be upon your own heads. I am clean. Henceforth, I go 
unto the Gentiles." Afterward, when he went to Ephesus, 
still attracted toward his own countrymen, he taught three 
months in the synagogue. " But when divers were 
hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way be- 
fore the multitude, he departed from them," and thenceforth 
argued "in the school of one Tyrannus." 

It was the pliable nature of Polytheism to part more 
easily with old predilections. Simple and earnest souls 
among the Greeks and Romans were repelled by ceremo- 
nials of the Mosaic law, and by its intolerance toward 
foreigners, while they were powerfully attracted by the 
gentle and sympathising character of Christ, and by the 
assured hope of rising from the dead, based on his resur- 
rection. Paul, finding a greater number of proselytes 
among them than among the Jews, made it an especial ob- 
ject to render the religion of Jesus acceptable to the 
Gentiles. This process necessarily involved the breaking 
down of many Jewish barriers. Accordingly, he boldly 
attacked the prejudices of his countrymen, by asking: "Is 
God the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the 
Gentiles ? Yes, of the Gentiles also. It is one God who 
shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircum- 
cision through faith." " There is neither Jew nor Greek, 
there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor fe- 
male ; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Forbidden 


articles of food, which had occasioned so much separation 
between the Jews and other nations, were dismissed from 
further controversy, with the remark, "to him that es 
teemeth anything unclean, to him it is unclean." The cus- 
tom of sacrificing a lamb at the Passover might be safely 
discontinued ; Jesus being the lamb sacrificed once and for 
all time. Paul said : " He is one who needeth not daily to 
offer up sacrifice for his own sins, and then for the people's, 
like those High Priests; for this he did once, when he 
offered up himself." The strict observance of holy days 
and seasons among his countrymen was described by Paul 
^as " bondage to the Law." He said: " One man esteemeth 
one day above another ; another esteemeth every day alike ; 
let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." " The 
Law was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ; but 
now that faith is come, we are no longer under a school- 
master." He taught that the ancient rite of circumcision 
might be observed or not, according to the dictates of in- 
dividual conscience. The promulgation of such views 
excited peculiar animosity against Paul, not only among 
those of his nation who adhered to all their old opinions, 
but also among many who believed Jesus was their pro- 
mised Messiah. Some reviled him as an apostate from the 
Law ; others asserted that he was born of Gentile parents, 
and had no right to call himself a Jew. Perhaps these 
charges led him to dwell with so much emphasis on his 
Jewish birth and his strict education as a Pharisee. 

Few of those who had been educated to consider the uncir- 
cumcised as dogs, could rise with his great soul to a height 
that overlooked local and temporary distinctions. The ques- 
tion of circumcision gave rise to so many disputes in the prim- 
itive churches, that it was finally agreed to refer it to an as- 
sembly of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. There Paul, 
Barnabas, and Peter, strongly pleaded the miracles God 
had wrought among the Gentiles, and the impolicy of lay- 
ing upon them a yoke that was too heavy for them to 
bear. When those at Jerusalem heard how many prose- 
lytes Paul had made, and how the Holy Spirit had been 


imparted to them at baptism, whereby they, as well as 
Jewish converts, had received power to work miracles, 
.hey were convinced that God had appointed Paul an 
apostle of the Gentiles. They, therefore, agreed that 
foreign converts should merely be required to conform to 
Jewish customs so far as to refrain from eating blood, or 
things strangled, from the worship of idols, and from 
fornication. This last injunction was deemed peculiarly 
important, because it was a vice that had become con- 
nected with religious ceremonies, wherever the worship of 
Venus, and of other kindred goddesses, prevailed. The 
decision of this council at Jerusalem, held about seven- 
teen years after the death of Christ, was the first step 
toward separating Christianity from Judaism, and thus 
enabling it to emerge from the narrow limitations of a 
Jewish sect to a new religion for the nations. 

This progressive step seems to have been mainly accom- 
plished by the agency of Paul, who from the beginning 
pursued a singularly independent course. After his 
miraculous conversion, he did not go to Jerusalem, or seek 
in any way to obtain information or advice from the 
Twelve Apostles. In his writings he professes to teach 
some things by "commandment," others by "permission." 
In some places, he declares that he does not speak from 
himself, but utters what "the Lord commands;" with 
regard to other things, he says, "to the rest speak I, not 
the Lord." This distinction appears to be founded on 
consciousness of internal guidance from above, or on some 
teaching of Christ, either written, or orally preserved, to 
which he referred as standard authority. When he was 
persecuting the church, he doubtless heard many accounts 
of Jesus from Christian prisoners, and being present at the 
death of Stephen, he could not have been otherwise than 
impressed by his forgiving spirit and undoubting faith. 
But he has left us no record how he acquired his know- 
ledge of Christ, except two brief communications by a 
voice from heaven ; once on his way to Damascus, the 
T>ther while he was praying in the Temple. He says: "I 
Vol. II.— 17 i 


did not confer with, flesh and blood. The gospel preached 
by me is not after man, nor was I taught it, but by revela- 
tion of Christ." He went to Damascus immediately after 
his conversion, and thence into Arabia. He says: "After 
three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and 
abode with him fifteen days; but other of the apostles 
saw I none, save James, the Lord's brother." On that 
occasion, it is stated . that the brethren in Jerusalem were 
afraid of him, and "believed not that he was a disciple." 
They knew that he had been a violent persecutor, and 
there being little intercourse between Damascus and 
Jerusalem, they had not heard of his conversion. But 
Barnabas, who had been a fellow student with him in his 
youth, and who knew how boldly he had been preaching 
Jesus, told them what wonders the Lord had done for him. 
Fourteen years afterward, when Paul went up to Jerusa- 
lem, to the council above mentioned, he does not speak of 
the leading apostles as if he were much acquainted with 
them. He says : " When James, Peter, and John, who 
seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given 
unto me, they gave unto me and Barnabas the right hand 
of fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and 
they unto the circumcision." 

Some time afterward, Barnabas wished to take his 
nephew Mark with them, as their minister, when they 
visited the churches they had planted in various cities; 
but Paul objected, because on a previous occasion Mark 
had left them, and had returned to Jerusalem, and " went 
not with them to the work." On this subject, the conten- 
tion between Paul and Barnabas " was so sharp, that they 
departed asunder one from the other," and it does not ap- 
pear that they ever met again. 

The atmosphere of Jerusalem was not free enough for 
such a man as Paul. When he went thither in time of 
famine, with donations for his Christian brethren, from 
various churches he had established in foreign lands, he 
found James, and the other elders, rejoiced to hear how 
God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry; 


but they added: "Thou seest, brother, how many thou- 
sands of Jews there are that believe ; and they are all 
zealous for the Law. And they are informed of thee that 
thou teachest all the Jews, which are among the Gentiles, 
to forsake Moses; saying they ought not to circumcise 
their children." Before the people assembled together to 
hear Paul preach, they advised him to mollify their preju- 
dices by purifying himself at the Temple, according to 
the Mosaic ritual, and by paying for four men, who 
wished to shave their heads in fulfilment of a vow ; and 
Paul did as they advised. But when the Jews saw him, 
they began to excite fury against him, saying he taught 
contrary to the Law of Moses, and profaned the Temple 
by bringing Greeks into it. Paul delivered an address to 
the multitude, in which he told them the particulars of his 
miraculous conversion, and excused himself for preaching 
to foreigners by an account of a trance, which fell upon 
him while he was praying in the Temple, during which he 
saw a vision of Jesus, who said to him: " Get thee quickly 
out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testimony 
concerning me. Depart; for I will send thee far hence 
unto the Gentiles." The people listened till he came to 
that word; then they cried out: "Away with such a 
fellow from the earth ! for it is not fit that he should live." 
Such was the uproar, that Paul escaped scourging only by 
appealing to the protection of Roman law. 

It required a special vision from heaven to prepare the 
way for Peter to visit a Roman centurion, though he was 
"a devout man, and one that feared God with all his 
house, and gave much alms to the people, and prayed to 
God always, and was of good report among all the nation 
of the Jews." Enlightened by a vision, and summoned by 
an angel, Peter went to him, saying : " Ye know that it is 
an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep com- 
pany, or come Unto one of another nation ; but God hath 
showed me that I should not call any man common or 
unclean." After his scruples concerning unlawful food 
were thus done away by direct teaching from heaven, he 


went to preach in the Syrian city of Antioch, where he 
associated freely with Gentiles and ate with them. But 
when some strict Jewish Christians arrived from Pales- 
tine, he "feared them which were of the circumcision," and 
withdrew from the Gentile converts. " Other Jews, who 
were with him, dissembled also." This excited the indig- 
nation of Paul, who says he " withstood him to the face 
before them all, because he was to be blamed." 

But, notwithstanding these occasional differences, the 
early followers of Jesus were very closely bound together, 
not only by love and reverence for his memory, and by 
the dangers and sufferings they shared together, but also 
by the strong belief that they were chosen and set apart 
from the world, and that the hour of their deliverance was 
at hand. Sure of being sharers of his kingdom on the 
renovated earth, the world that was passing away under 
their eyes, and so soon to be destroyed, took small hold on 
their affections. They preached a Gospel of love and 
equality, and practised it also. While Paul was pursuing 
his missionary labours with so much energy and zeal, he 
made tents for a living, that he might not be an expense 
to others. There was community of property among them, 
and they called each other by the simple and endearing 
name of brethren. " The multitude of them that believed 
were of one heart and one soul : neither said any of them 
that aught of the things he possessed was his own ; but 
they had all things common. As many as were possessors 
of lands or houses, sold them, and brought the price of 
things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' 
feet ; and distribution was made unto every man according 
as he had need." Their resemblance to the Essenes in this, 
and in many other particulars, was so observable, that for 
a long time Philo's description of the Essenes was sup- 
posed to be an account of a Christian association. With 
the apostles, however, community of goods seems to have 
been resorted to merely as a temporary convenience, while 
so many of their members felt it a duty to travel and 
preach, and worldly occupations were of necessity • fre- 


quently suspended. The custom ceased during their life- 
time, and in lieu thereof feasts were substituted, called 
Agape, from a Greek word meaning Love : in this appli- 
cation intended to express Christian affection, or charity. 
On certain days, they all met at a Feast of Charity, where 
the rich furnished provisions, and the poor were abun- 
dantly supplied. After the guests had eaten sufficiently, 
pieces of bread were passed round, and a cup of wine, in 
memory of the last Passover supper the disciples had 
partaken with Jesus. They then parted from each other 
with a kiss. 

The early Christians, like the Essenes, inculcated passive 
obedience to the existing government. They simply en- 
deavoured to infuse the spirit of their religion, as far as 
possible, into the civil institutions which they found already 
established. They exhorted masters to give unto their ser- 
vants that which was "just and equal ;" and they instructed 
servants to obey their masters " with all fear ; not only the 
good and the gentle, but also the fro ward ;" adding that 
those who suffered wrongfully with patience were accepta- 
ble with Grod. Within the Christian community itself 
there was practical equality. All were "the Lord's free- 
men," and all were servants of a " Master in heaven." 
Onesimus, a slave, who had left the service of a Christian, 
named Philemon, was afterward converted by the preach- 
ing of Paul. Whereupon, Paul sent him with a letter to 
his master, saying: "Dearly beloved, and fellow labourer, 
receive him not now as a servant, but as a brother beloved. 
Eeceive him as myself." Apparently the injunction was 
obeyed ; for Onesimus was afterward employed as a mis- 
sionary, and Ignatius alludes to him "as the good bishop 
of the church at Ephesus." 

Women were among the most devoted friends of Christ, 
by whom they were always treated with respect and sym- 
pathy. The apostles also frequently make honourable men- 
tion of them ; but old Asiatic habits of thought are strongly 
impressed upon their teachings on this subject. It being 
the universal custom for women in Asia to wear veils, on 
Vol. II.— 17* 


account of their enslaved condition, and the predominance 
of sensual ideas, Paul speaks of it as shameful for a woman 
to pray, or prophesy, in Christian meetings, without being 
veiled. He says : " Every woman that prayeth or prophe- 
sieth with her head uncovered, dishonoureth her head. A 
man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he 
is the image and glory of God ; but the woman is the glory 
of the man. For the man was not created for the woman, 
but the woman for the man." "Let your women keep 
silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them 
to speak ; but they are commanded to be under obedience ; 
as also saith the Law. If they will learn anything, let 
them ask their husbands at home ; for it is a shame for 
women to speak in the church." 

In those primitive times, the ceremonies of worship were 
extremely simple. They met at each other's dwellings as 
frequently as possible, to pray, sing hymns, and repeat the 
sayings of Jesus. According to Jewish custom, they ob- 
served the Sabbath on Saturday ; but they met together on 
the next day, to pray and sing, in joyful commemoration 
of the resurrection of Christ. They observed the Jewish 
festivals of the Passover and Pentecost, both of which were 
associated with the memory of Christ ; one being the anni- 
versary of his farewell Supper, the other commemorating the 
descent of the Holy Spirit, in the form of flaming tongues. 
The Lord's Supper was a social meal, like the Jewish Pass- 
over ; and like that, it was accompanied with the breaking 
of bread, and passing round a goblet of wine. The forty- 
sixth verse of the second chapter of Acts implies that this 
ceremony was observed every day by the first Christian 
church at Jerusalem. That it was preceded by a social meal 
at Corinth is evident from the writings of Paul, who thus 
rebukes the disorderly proceedings of the Christian church 
in that city: "Every one taketh his own supper before 
another ; and one is hungry and another is drunken. This 
is not to eat the Lord's Supper. What I have ye not houses 
to eat and drink in ? Or despise ye the church of God, 
and shame them that have not ? My brethren, when ye 


come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any 
man hunger, let him eat at home ; that ye come not to- 
gether unto condemnation. For as often as ye eat this 
bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death, till 
he come. Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread and 
drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of 
the body and blood of the Lord." 

The government of the church at that period was as 
simple as their other habits. " Seven men of honest report, 
full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom," were appointed to dis- 
tribute funds impartially among the widows and orphans. 
These were called deacons, from a Greek word signifying 
to serve, to minister. Women were appointed to the same 
office. It is likely that such portions of the business were 
assigned to them as were deemed improper, or imprudent, 
to entrust to the deacons. Paul gave directions that a 
woman elected as deaconess must be a widow, having been 
the wife of but one man, and not under sixty years old ; 
" well reported of for good works ; if she have brought up 
children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed 
the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have 
diligently followed every good work." As the number of 
Christians increased, and they seceded entirely from the 
Jewish synagogues, it became necessary, for the preserva- 
tion of order, to appoint elders or presb}4ers, men whose 
characters entitled them to reverence. How much such 
restraining influences were needed to guide and check 
young, ignorant, or enthusiastic converts, coming into the 
Christian church from all nations, and previously influ- 
enced by a great variety of customs and opinions, may be 
inferred from the expressions in Paul's letter to the church 
of Corinth: "How is it then, brethren? When ye come 
together, every one of you hath a Psalm, hath a doctrine, 
hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. 
If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the 
first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy, one by one, 
that all may learn, and all may be comforted." It was 
very early the custom to appoint a Presiding Elder, or 


Pastor, to whom the other presbyters could look for gui* 
dance, when questions arose concerning doctrines, or the 
regulation of church affairs. According to the testimony 
of the Fathers, the apostles appointed several such superin- 
tendents to take charge of the churches they had estab- 
lished. These spiritual directors were selected on account 
of their superior wisdom and piety, and were treated with 
deference on account of their years and character, though 
they claimed no preeminence in rank. The manner in 
which Paul defends himself, and expostulates with his 
brethren in Christian churches, shows that even his apos- 
tolic authority was far from being received with unques- 
tioning submission. 

That a class of people so unostentatious, so exemplary 
in their morals, and so benevolent to the poor, should be 
objects of hatred and persecution, seems surprising at the 
first glance ; especially as they never interfered with civil 
or military affairs, and inculcated passive obedience to the 
government, in all matters not appertaining to religious 
faith. But if we try to look at the subject from the same 
point of view that the Jews must necessarily have done, 
we shall see that they could not do otherwise than regard 
with conscientious abhorrence men who ate and drank 
with foreigners, and thereby incurred the risk of touching 
something that had been connected with idolatry. More- 
over, such a Messiah as the Christians said had come 
destroyed all their long-cherished hopes of conquest and 
universal dominion ; and if the opinions of this originally 
obscure sect should come to prevail extensively among 
their countrymen, it would greatly tend to abate their zeal 
for resisting the Roman yoke. Although the followers of 
Christ increased with far less rapidity in Palestine, than 
they did in the Gentile world, still they were sufficiently 
numerous and bold to be very annoying to those who 
relied upon the old order of things. When Jews met in 
the synagogues, they were accustomed to repeat the fol- 
lowing anathema in their prayers : " Send thy curse, O 
God, upon the Nazarenes." The following prayer was 


added, by the Eabbi Gamaliel, to the eighteen prayers of 
Ezra : " Let there be no hope to them who apostatize from 
the true religion ; and let heretics, how many soever there 
be, all perish as in a moment. And let the kingdom of 
pride [Eome] be speedily rooted out, and broken in our 
days. Blessed art thou, Lord our God, who de- 
stroyest the wicked, and bringest down the proud." They 
sent emissaries from Jerusalem to synagogues in all parts 
of the world, warning them against an impious sect, 
despisers of the Law, who had lately risen up under one 
Jesus, a Galilean impostor. Their annoyance was in- 
creased by the fact that the Romans, who for a long time 
paid very little attention to the subject, confounded the 
Christians with the Jews, and whatever they disliked in 
one they attributed to the other. How much this was the 
case is indicated by the Roman historian, Suetonius, who 
says of the emperor Claudius : " He banished the Jews 
from Rome, who were continually making disturbances, at 
the instigation of one Christus." [Christ.] Under such 
circumstances, Jews were naturally predisposed to believe 
all rumours to the disadvantage of Christians, and prompt 
to bring accusations before the Roman magistrates, who 
readily listened to them, supposing them to be better 
qualified than foreigners could be to judge of disputed 
questions concerning their own doctrines. It was always 
the Roman policy to protect the worship of nations con- 
quered by them. With the characteristic pliancy of 
polytheism, they had been very willing to acknowledge 
Jehovah as one of the national deities of the earth. But 
with them religion was a very important part in the 
machinery of state; and they considered it the duty of 
citizens everywhere to conform to the worship established 
in the nation to which they belonged : therefore, they had 
less respect for Christian teachers than they had for 
Jewish Rabbins; though they regarded both as different 
manifestations of the same strange superstition. Jews in 
general did not seek to proselyte. They considered the 
requirements of their Law, as well as its advantages and 


rewards, intended for themselves only. Christians, on 
the contrary, had an unprecedented zeal for proselyting. 
They thus interfered not merely with old prejudices and 
sincere reverence for time-honoured institutions, but they 
assailed the worldly interests of various classes of men ; 
from priests to the makers of images and shrines, and the 
vendors of cattle for sacrifice. All the nations, from time 
immemorial, had been accustomed to regard temples, sta- 
tues, oracles, a consecrated priesthood, and sacrifices to the 
gods, as essential to religion ; and as the followers of the 
lowly Jesus had none of these things, they regarded them 
as atheists. This prejudice was increased by the fact that 
Jews always spoke of the leader of the ISTazarenes as a cri- 
minal condemned and executed by the laws of his country. 
Crucifixion was deemed by the Eomans so peculiarly igno- 
minious, that they never allowed any of their own citizens, 
not even the meanest and the worst, to be put to death in 
that manner. With minds thus pre-occupied, no wonder 
they accused Christians of worshipping " a dead malefactor," 
instead of the Immortal Spirits, which they were accus- 
tomed to adore. 

The first Roman persecution under which they suffered 
was of short duration, and seems to have been a freak of 
imperial tyranny, directed toward them on account of their 
general unpopularity. Tacitus, the historian, describes the 
conflagration which destroyed a great portion of Rome, 
sixty-four years after the birth of Christ, and adds : " To 
suppress the common rumour that he had himself set fire to 
the city, Nero procured others to be accused, and inflicted 
exquisite punishments upon those people who were held 
in abhorrence for their crimes, commonly known by the 
name of Christians. They were thus called from Christus, 
who, in the reign of Tiberius, was put to death as a crimi- 
nal, by the Procurator Pontius Pilate. This superstition, 
though checked for awhile, broke out again, and spread 
not only over Judea, the source of this evil, but reached 
the city [Rome] also, whither flow from all quarters all 
things vile and shameful, and where they find shelter and 


encouragement. At first, those only were apprehended 
who confessed themselves of that sect ; but they afterward 
disclosed the existence of a vast multitude, all of whom 
were condemned ; not so much for the crime of burning 
the city, as by the enmity of mankind toward them. These 
executions were so contrived as to expose them to derision 
and contempt. Some were covered with the skins of wild^ 
beasts, and torn to pieces by dogs ; some were crucified ; 
others, having been daubed over with combustible mate- 
rials, were set up as lights in the night time." This terrible 
scene was in the gardens of Nero's palace, and while inno- 
cent human beings were consumed with slow agonies, 
horses were racing through the grounds, for the amuse- 
ment of the populace, and the insane emperor guided his 
chariot among them, by that horrid light. 

It has been suggested that attention might have been at- 
tracted toward the Christians at the time of the great con- 
flagration, in consequence of their frequent descriptions of 
the destruction of the world by fire, and the establishment 
of a new kingdom upon earth. It is true these descriptions 
were as old as the Hindoos and Egyptians, that they 
figured largely in the writings of Zoroaster, and were 
mixed with the teaching of Stoic philosophers. But in the 
minds of Jews and Christians these ideas were inseparably 
connected with the kingdom of their Messiah ; and as one 
class was very impatient under Eoman dominion, and both 
detested Roman idolatry, their descriptions of the millenium 
were often mixed with glowing images of the burning of a 
proud and mighty city, with its palaces, temples, and 
images. Even as early as the time of Nero, it is not im- 
possible that something of the kind, misunderstood and ex- 
aggerated, afforded a plausible pretext for the imperial 

Fortunately, the fierce persecution under Nero did not 
spread far beyond the city of Some, though the magistrates 
were astonished to find the despised sect so numerous. A 
more extensive persecution prevailed in the time of Domi- 
tian, ninety-three years after the birth of Christ. The em- 


peror's own cousin, Flavius Clemens, a quiet and gentle 
character, was put to death, on the charge of practices at 
variance with the established religion of the empire ; and 
his wife, Domitilla, was exiled for the same offence. No 
wonder Domitian's anger was excited when the unpopular 
doctrines thus approached the threshold of his own palace. 
Many Christians were banished, or put to death, during 
this persecution, especially in Asia Minor. There is a tra- 
dition generally believed, but doubted by some learned 
men, that the title of King, frequently bestowed upon 
Jesus by the Christians, excited the jealousy of Domitian, 
and that he caused search to be made for his surviving re- 
latives, in the line of David. At that time, the sceptre had 
long "departed from Judah," and been successively in the 
hands of other families. The old royal line was lan- 
guishing in forgotten obscurity, and the Roman govern- 
ment certainly seemed to have nothing to fear from that 
quarter. According to traditions of the Christian Fathers, 
two grandsons of the apostle Jude were discovered and 
brought before the tribunals. They confessed that they 
were descendants of David, but in very humble circum- 
stances ; having only a small farm, which they cultivated 
with their own hands. Being asked concerning the Mes- 
siah, they replied that his kingdom was not of this earth ; 
that he would reign in heaven until the time appointed for 
the destruction of the world, and then he would appear in 
glory, to judge both the living and the dead. The emperor, 
perceiving their simplicity, dismissed them as harmless. 

The Christian Scriptures do not inform us concerning 
the death of any of the apostles, except James the Greater. 
The only other sources of information are the writings of 
Josephus, and traditions handed down by the Christian 
Fathers. The earliest of these writings allude only to 
James the Greater, and James the Less, to Peter and Paul, 
as martyrs. But as time passed on, and the founders of 
Christianity acquired more importance in the world, stories 
multiplied concerning their missionary travels in distant 
regions of the earth, and their perils by fire and sword*, 


insomuch, that John alone escaped martyrdom, and he by 
aid of a miracle. Whether many of the chosen Twelve did 
in reality ever leave Jerusalem cannot be ascertained. But 
certain it is, that the sufferings of those actively engaged 
in propagating Christianity could not be easily exaggerated. 
Nothing could be more affecting than the sad simplicity of 
Paul's statement : " I think God has set forth us the apostles 
as it were appointed unto death. Even unto this present 
hour, we hunger and thirst, and are naked and buffeted, 
and have no certain dwelling place, and labour, working 
with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless ; being per- 
secuted, we suffer it. We are made as the filth of the 
earth, and the offscouring of all things. Of the Jews, five 
times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I 
beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered ship- 
wreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep. In 
journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, 
in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, 
in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in 
the sea, in perils among false brethren. In weariness and 
painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in 
fastings often, in cold and nakedness." 

As Paul's own writings form a prominent portion of the 
Christian Scriptures, and as his adventures are also re- 
corded by his friend and companion, Luke, more is known 
of his labours, than of any others among the first teachers 
of Christianity. Little is said concerning most of the 
Twelve, on whom the Holy Spirit descended at Pente- 
cost. It is incidentally stated that after the death of Ste- 
phen, the church at Jerusalem were scattered abroad, 
"except the apostles;" and the Christian Scriptures are 
thenceforth silent concerning nearly all of them. Peter, 
who was often associated with Paul, is the only one of them 
who makes a prominent figure in the subsequent pages. 
The first council, held at Jerusalem, ordained that Paul 
should go as a missionary among the Gentiles, and Peter 
among the Jews. Large numbers of their countrymen 
remained in Persia, when a remnant of two tribes returned 
Vol. II.— 18 


to Judea with Ezra, and it seems likely that Peter went 
thither, to convert them to Christianity ; for the last infor- 
mation the Scriptures give concerning him is contained in 
a letter written by himself, apparently from Babylon, and 
addressed to various churches in Asia. Traditions con- 
cerning him abound. Eusebius, the earliest Christian his- 
torian, relates that Peter's wife was put to death during a 
period of persecution, and was consoled and encouraged by 
her husband during her last moments. There was also a 
tradition which passed into general belief, that he was in 
Eome during the time of Nero's persecution, and that some 
of the Christian converts persuaded him to leave the city 
till the storm was over. When he had gone about two 
miles on the Appian Way, he met Jesus travelling toward 
Eome. Struck with astonishment, he exclaimed: "Lord, 
whither goest thou?" Jesus looked upon him with gentle 
sadness, and replied: " I go to Eome to be crucified a second 
time," and immediately vanished. Peter considered this a 
sign that he was doing wrong to avoid danger. He accor- 
dingly returned, and persisted in preaching and baptizing. 
It is related, on the same traditional authority, that both he 
and Paul were arrested during the last year of Nero's reign, 
and thrown into the Mamartine dungeons under the Capitol. 
There they still continued to preach, and many prisoners 
were converted by them ; as were also two centurions ap- 
pointed to guard them. There being no water to baptize 
them, Peter prayed, and a fountain gushed up through the 
stone floor. When, condemned to be crucified, he chose to 
be suspended with his head downward, saying he was not 
worthy to die in the same position as his Lord. As Peter 
was a married man in the life time of Jesus, he must of 
course have been aged, if living, at the time of the confla- 
gration of Eome. 

It is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles that Paul was 
at Eome two years, during which " he dwelt in his own 
hired house, and received all that came in unto him, teach- 
ing those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with 
all confidence, no man forbidding him." That he was 


executed during a subsequent visit to that city is highly 
probable ; for he wrote to Timothy, while a prisoner there, 
stating that he was awaiting a second trial, but expressing 
no hopes of release. His situation must have been ex- 
tremely critical at that time, for he declares: "Ko man 
stood with me, but' all men forsook me. I pray God that 
it may not be laid to their charge. I am ready to be 
offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have 
fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept 
the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of 
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall 
give me at that day ; and not to me only, but also to all 
them that love his appearing." There is a tradition that 
Paul, in the presence of Nero, healed a sick child, cast out 
devils from a woman who was diseased, and restored sight 
to a blind man. But the emperor was not convinced by 
these miracles. It is also said that his head made three 
bounds when it was cut off, and wherever it touched the 
ground a fountain sprang forth. 

All traditions concerning the apostle John are in keep- 
ing with the gentle, affectionate disposition ascribed to him 
in Scripture. Though he fled, with the other timid disci- 
ples, in the hour of extreme peril, he soon returned to 
Jesus in the Judgment Hall, and remained with him 
through all the painful and insulting scenes of his trial and 
condemnation. He is the only disciple mentioned as pres- 
ent at the crucifixion, and he afterward received the mother 
of Jesus to his own home. He and Peter were arrested 
and imprisoned for preaching to the people, and when they 
were rebuked by the High Priest and Elders, they answered 
boldly : " Whether it be right to hearken unto you more 
than unto Grod, judge ye." John afterward travelled into 
Asia Minor, and established churches at Smyrna, Perga- 
mus, Laodicea, and various other places ; but he resided 
principally at Ephesus. There is a tradition that once, as 
he was approaching that city, he met a funeral procession 
and inquired whose it was. They told him it was Drusi- 
ana, a charitable and religious woman, at whose house he 


had often dwelt. He requested them to set down the bier, 
and when he stretched his hands over it, and prayed ear- 
nestly that (rod would restore her life, she rose up, and he 
returned home with her. Clement of Alexandria relates 
that when John was about to leave the city for some time, 
he entrusted a young convert to the especial care of the 
Presiding Elder, saying : "Be to him a father ; for, at my 
return, I shall require his soul at thy hands." But the 
young man was led into evil courses, and went from one 
excess to another, till he became the leader of a band of 
robbers in the adjacent mountains. When the apostle 
returned to Ephesus, he inquired of the Elder concerning 
"the precious deposit" he had left in his hands. With 
downcast eyes, he explained what had happened. Where- 
upon, John wept aloud, and said: "Alas, alas, to what a 
guardian have I trusted our brother !" He immediately 
rode to the mountains, and asked the robbers to bring him 
to their captain. As soon as the young man beheld his 
old instructor, he covered his face and would have fled. 
But John exclaimed: "Why dost thou fly from me, my 
son? from me, an old, unarmed man? I will pray for 
thee. If need be, I will die for thee." The robber burst 
into tears, and implored forgiveness. His right hand, 
which had been so criminally employed, he tried to conceal 
beneath the drapery of his robe. But John seized it, and 
kissed it, and bathed it with his tears ; nor did he cease 
from his affectionate exhortations, mingled with earnest 
prayers, till the erring soul turned from its evil ways, and 
had hopes of reconciliation with God. 

There is a tradition of the Fathers that the emperor 
Domitian caused John to be arrested on the charge of 
magic, and that he was plunged into a cauldron of boiling 
oil, from which he emerged as fresh and vigorous as if it 
had been a pleasant bath, Afterward, the same emperor 
banished him to the island of Patmos, where he is sup- 
posed to have written the book called Apocalypse, or Rev- 
elations. During the mild reign of Nerva, he was permit- 
ted to return to Ephesus, where he lived to be nearly a 


hundred years old. When he was very aged, his friends 
used to lead him to church. Being too feeble to preach, 
he gave them the brief exhortation: "Little children, love 
one another." When asked why he always repeated the 
same thing, he answered : " Because that injunction com- 
prises the whole duty of man to man." There was a float- 
ing tradition, believed by many, that John did not die, but 
was taken up into Paradise. According to another tradi- 
tion, the good old apostle died without pain or change, 
and immediately rose again in bodily form, and ascended 
up into heaven to rejoin Christ. It is impossible to sepa- 
rate the true from the imaginary in these traditions ; but 
concurrent testimony, from various quarters, proves that 
John lived to be a very aged man. He had a disciple, 
called John the Presbyter, to whom it is supposed that 
some things ought to be attributed, which are generally 
ascribed to the apostle John. 

James the Greater, brother of John, was the first martyr 
among the apostles. He is supposed to have remained 
most of his time at Jerusalem, where he was put to death 
by the sword, about thirteen years after the crucifixion of 
Jesus. Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, was 
king at that time, and being desirous to establish a reputa- 
tion for strict Judaism, he was severe against those brought 
before his tribunal charged with heresy. 

The other James was called the Younger, or the Less. 
He is supposed to have been the first Presiding Elder of 
the church of Jerusalem, and some asserted that he was 
appointed by Christ himself. The degree of his relation- 
ship to Jesus has been a subject of controversy. Paul 
calls him " the Lord's brother," and Eusebius, the ecclesi- 
astical historian, gives him the same appellation. His 
integrity and holiness of character, during an administra- 
tion of thirty years, obtained for him the surname of the 
Just. According to a statement found in the works of 
Josephus, his zealous preaching rendered him an object of 
animosity to the Jews, especially to the High Priest Ananus. 
When he stood on a terrace of the temple, addressing the 
Vol. II.— 18* 


multitude assembled at the Passover, a tumult arose, he 
was hurled down, and one of the infuriated mob below 
dashed out his brains with a club. 

A volume might be filled with the traditional stories, 
which gradually clustered round the memory of the apos- 
ties and their companions. Most of them were garlands 
woven by imagination, for love and faith ; and from that 
point of view they are sacred. The marvellous abounds 
in them. It was believed that Thomas went to India, 
where he became acquainted with the Three Wise Men 
from the East and baptized them ; and that he suffered 
martyrdom there, being transfixed with spears by the en* 
raged Bramins. Matthew was supposed to have remained 
several years in Judea, preaching to his countrymen. He 
afterward travelled into Ethiopia, where he raised the 
king's son from the dead, and cured his daughter of 
leprosy. He also is said to have been put to death, by 
sword or spear. 

The same tendency to the marvellous is observable 
among all nations, at that period. Among many extraor- 
dinary statements of that character, is the following, by 
Tacitus, the Roman historian, concerning Vespasian, who 
became emperor seventy years after the birth of Christ : 
" While Vespasian was in Alexandria, waiting for favour- 
able weather, many miracles happened, manifesting that he 
was the favourite of Celestial Powers. A well known 
blind man, one of the lowest of the people, fell at his feet, 
beseeching him to touch his eyes with spittle and restore 
his sight ; saying he was directed to do so by the oracle 
of Serapis. Another, who had a diseased hand, came in 
obedience to the same oracle, and intreated Vespasian to 
place his foot upon the hand. The emperor at first 
spurned these petitioners, and laughed at their requests. 
But they persisted in earnest supplications, and some of his 
courtiers sought to flatter him with the idea that he was 
the chosen of heaven, and could perform whatsoever he 
would. Vespasian, fearing to excite prejudice against him- 
self by an appearance of presumption and vanity, still 


hesitated. He summoned physicians and inquired whether 
such blindness and infirmity could be cured by human 
means. They replied that the power of sight was not de- 
stroyed, and might possibly be restored, if the external 
obstructions to the eye could be removed. That the hand 
had fallen into a diseased vicious condition, but could be 
cured, if the right healing power were applied. They said 
perhaps it was the pleasure of the gods that the emperor 
should perform that office. They reminded him that the 
glory of a cure would be his ; but the ridicule of a failure 
would fall on the supplicants themselves. "Vespasian, thus 
urged, and persuaded in his own mind that everything was 
possible to his good fortune, with a cheerful countenance 
did as he had been requested, while a multitude eagerly 
watched the result. Immediately the hand was restored 
to use, and the blind man saw daylight shine again. Per- 
sons who were present recount each of those miracles, even 
unto this day, when there is no longer any hope of reward 
for speaking falsely." 



In order to understand more distinctly the influences 
which surrounded Christianity, when it first began to 
spread among the nations, it may be useful to glance at 
some individuals, cotemporary with the apostles, or nearly 
so, who attracted attention, and had influence on the 
opinions of men, 

Philo. — Philo Juda3us was a remarkable man, born in 
Alexandria, about forty-one years before Christ. He be- 
longed to an illustrious Jewish family, and was able to 
avail himself of the best opportunities for education in that 
city of inquisitive intellect. He was endowed with great 
learning, and apparently with genius also. Of course, he 
became intimately acquainted with Greek philosophy, 
which at that time formed a prominent part of education. 


The mystical tendencies of his own character particularly 
attracted him toward the writings of Plato, while religious 
reverence, and all the associations of childhood bound him 
to the faith of his fathers. When Grecians outgrew their 
mythology, the best minds among them tried to harmonize 
habitual veneration for ancient writings and institutions 
with increasing intelligence and a higher standard of mo- 
rality, by resorting to a system of allegorical interpretation. 
As the intellectual stature of the Jews increased, by ac- 
quaintance with the literature and philosophy of other 
nations, they resorted to the same process. It has been al- 
ready remarked, in the chapter on the Jews, that Aristo- 
bulus found the doctrines of Plato in the writings of Moses, 
by means of allegorical interpretation. More than a 
hundred years afterward, Philo adopted the same system, 
and carried it out more fully. How much he enlarged 
Hebrew boundaries by this method may be inferred from 
a few examples. Pie says : " If Moses made only one tent 
for the worship of Jehovah, it was to typify that the whole 
world is only one Temple of the Supreme." He supposes 
that the three men who appeared to Abraham, and dined 
on a calf with him, were three angels, in the literal sense; 
but in the hidden allegorical sense, they represented " God 
accompanied by his two Powers ; one was the Power that 
created the world, the other was the Power which guides 
and governs it." In the same way, he finds spiritual signi- 
ficance in the description which Moses gives of the High 
Priest. He says : u This High Priest does not mean a man, 
but the Word of God, [The Logos] free from all sin, vo- 
luntary or involuntary. When Moses commands him 
not to defile himself, on account of his father or his 
mother, I think that he must have parents incorruptible 
and holy; his father God, who is also Father of all, 
and his mother Sophia [Wisdom] by which every- 
thing was produced." He also considered the Logos, or 
Word of God, represented by the breast-plate of the 
High Priest, by the aid of which he prophesied. He says : 
"It was necessary that he who officiated as priest to the 


Father of the world, should have his most perfect Son as 
an advocate." 

He said God clothed the spirit of the Hebrew Sacred 
Books in an outward covering, in order to accommodate 
himself to the weak intelligence of his people; but he 
plainly implies that in some cases the literal sense was 
shocking to his own mind. He taught that a divine 
science, received by intuition, was necessary to penetrate 
the hidden meaning ; and this was possessed only by the 
initiated. He who elevated, his soul above the material 
world, by the practice of virtue, and the contemplation of 
spiritual things, was enabled to pierce through the outward 
letter to the interior idea. What seemed to the common 
reader a mere historical fact, a traditionary custom, a meta- 
phor, a word, even a single letter, or a number, might en- 
close the most profound truth, which he alone could unlock, 
who had the key of true science. He says: "He who 
knows God only through his creation, knows Him merely 
by his shadow. But the pure and perfect spirit, initiated 
into the great mysteries, is not reduced to the necessity of 
learning the cause from the effects. He is raised above 
that which is created, and receives revelation from The 
Eternal ; so that he knows Him in himself, in the Logos, 
[Word] and in his shadow, the world." 

Philo is eloquent in his praises of the intuitive science, 
and in his cautions to guard it against all but the divinely 
illuminated ones. He gives some profoundly allegorical 
interpretations of texts in the Hebrew Scriptures, concern- 
ing women and children, and adds: "O ye initiated, ye 
whose ears are purified, receive this into your soul, as 
mysteries that never ought to escape from it. Never re- 
veal it to any of the profane. Hide it within yourselves, 
as a treasure not corruptible, like silver or gold, but more 
precious than all other things, since it is the science of the 
Great Cause, of Virtue, and of that which is born of both." 

He taught the existence of One Invisible God, ineffable 
and incomprehensible ; Creator of the spiritual types of all 
things; from whom all Intelligences proceeded; diffused 


throughout the universe, and active in all its parts ,* neve? 
cognizable to the sense of man ; and known to mortals 
only through the medium of his Logos, by whom he created 
the outward world of visible forms. This Father of all 
Spirits dwelt in a region of supernal light, the spiritual 
archetype of all other light, which Philo describes as 
"that super-celestial star, the source of the visible stars r 
which may be called the universal splendour, from which 
the sun, moon, and stars, fixed and wandering, derive their 
respective splendours." 

Philo agreed with the Cabalists in believing there was 
a Mother of the Universe, whom he calls Sophia, a Greek 
word meaning Wisdom. By union with the Supreme, but. 
not after the manner of men, she conceived and gave birth 
to the Ideas, or Types, according to which the Logos 
formed the world. He says: a The Father of all things 
wished his most ancient Son to arise, whom he declared 
his First-born, and who, imitating his Father's ways, and 
looking to his archetypical patterns, clothed them in visible 
forms." " The Intelligible World [by which he means 
the World of Divine Types] is nothing else but the Word 
of God preparing himself to create the visible world ; even 
as an intelligible city is nothing else but the reasoning of 
the architect, who designs to build a city according to a 
plan that he has formed of it in his own mind." 

He calls the Logos "The Son of God-" "The Express 
Image of God ;" " The Oldest of Intelligences, between 
whom and the Supreme there is no medium." He believed 
the Logos was always with Jehovah, and of course was 
always invisibly present in the inmost sanctuary of the 
Temple at Jerusalem. If he does not intend to represent 
him as a person, rather than an attribute of the Divine Mind, 
he at least uses language which distinctly conveys that 
idea. He says : " The Lord is called God of gods, not 
with relation to created Intelligences, whether seraphs,, 
angels, or human beings ; but in relation to his Two con- 
substantial Powers; which are not simple attributes, but 
eternal, uncreated, infinite principles of action, represented 


by the two wings of the cherubim, that covered the taber- 
nacle." He also says : "I have heard a doctrine from my 
soul, which is accustomed to be divinely inspired, and to 
utter oracles concerning things of which itself is ignorant. 
My soul said to me, With the One God 7 who possesses true 
being, are two highest and principal Powers: Goodness 
and Authority. By Goodness all things are made ; by 
Authority all things are governed. In the midst is The 
Logos, which connects both, by which God both rules and 
is good." Again he says : " In the midst is The Father, 
he whom the Scriptures call I Am. On one side of Him is 
the Word, which created all things; on the other is the 
Providence, which governs all things." "God, between 
these two Powers, presents to an enlightened soul some- 
times one image only, sometimes three. The soul, when 
purified by contemplation, raises itself above all numbers, 
and advances to that pure and simple idea, which is One, 
and independent of all others. The soul, not yet initiated 
into the mysteries of the first order, stops at the smaller ; 
not being capable of comprehending Him, who is con- 
sidered in himself, without any foreign aid, she conceives 
of Three of them, and seeks God in his several relations 
of Creator and King." 

He maintained that no creature in existence resembled 
the Supreme Father. Human souls were created in the 
image of the Logos. As First and Chief of all Intelli- 
gences, he calls the Logos an archangel, and supposes him 
to possess all the attributes of God, and exercise all the 
power of God. As the Type of all Souls, he is called The 
Model Man, or the Primitive Man. Being, in this latter 
capacity, a representative of the human race, he is their 
protector, and the Mediator between them and the Father. 
He contends with the Spirits of Darkness; he radiates 
heavenly light into souls that turn towards him; and 
he prays for them to the Father of the Universe. The 
Logos is often represented as taking the form of an 
angel, for some temporary purpose. He thus appeared to 
Abraham, and gave the Law to Moses. Speaking of Ha- 


gar, Philo says : " She was met by an angel, which was the 
Logos of (rod, advising her to return to her mistress." In 
allusion to the migrations of Abraham, he says : " He whc 
follows God must of necessity make use of the attending 
Logoi [plural of Logos] commonly called Angels." The 
idea often re-appears in his writings that the Logos could 
assume temporary personality, and then return to the 
Divine Being again. 

He considered the stars as intelligent beings, who " never 
did evil, and were incapable of doing it ;" by which he 
intended to discountenance the sayings of astrologers 
concerning malignant conjunctions of the stars, producing 
diseases, and other disasters on earth. He says : " Those 
whom other philosophers call demons, Moses usually calls 
angels ; but they are Spirits flying through the air. The 
whole world, in all its parts, must be animated by spiritual 
beings. Earth, air, fire, and water, have theirs ; and so have 
the stars of heaven. These Spirits are wholly immortal 
and divine. The air is filled with living creatures, as in- 
visible to us as the air itself. Some of these souls descend 
into bodies. Others disdain to be connected with the earth, 
and are employed by the Creator as agents and servants in 
administering the affairs of mortals. Those who descend 
into bodies are overwhelmed as in a whirlpool ; but some 
of them, by struggling, emerge and fly back to their home 
in upper regions, [after death.] These are souls who, while 
in the body, were taught a sublime philosophy. Those 
who sink, are souls of men who neglect the wisdom that 
pertains to the mind, and give themselves to carnal things. 
By considering that angels, demons, and souls, are different 
names for the same beings, you will clear away much su- 
perstition from the subject." 

In another place he says: " The ethereal regions are like 
a populous city, filled with immortal Spirits, as numerous 
as stars in the firmament. Those nearest to the earth, and 
attracted by its pleasures, descend into mortal forms. 
Some cherish their bodies, others seek to subdue them, 
that they may rise higher in the world to come. However, 


some of these last are again drawn down upon the earth by 
terrestrial desires. Others, disgusted with its vanities, fly 
from the body, as from a sepulchre, and with light wings 
rush toward the ethereal regions, where they pass their ex- 
istence. The purest and best, despising all that the world 
can offer, and guided by the holiest thoughts, become min- 
isters of the Supreme God 5 the eyes and ears of the Great 
King, seeing all, and hearing alL These divine messen- 
gers transmit to the children the orders of the Father, and 
to the Father the prayers of his children. They descend 
to earth, and re-ascend to heaven, Not that He who 
knows all things has need of their reports, but because it 
is good for mortals to have mediators and interpreters, in 
order that they may reverence the more the Supreme 
Arbiter of their destinies, 17 

He supposed that some Angels were attracted toward the 
earth by love for mortal women, and became the fathers of 
giants. He drew this inference from the Septuagint ver- 
sion of the Scriptures, which, declared that " the angels of 
God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair. 7 ' 

He represents man as a threefold being, having a rational 
soul, an animal soul, and a body. The first is from the 
Supreme One, and is therefore capable of rising to contem- 
plation of him, and a reception of his celestial light. The 
irrational soul is the seat of the passions, and comes from 
inferior Spirits, who are the protectors of men, but who are 
not capable of producing anything more perfect. The 
irrational soul, and the body formed of earth, are both 
offensive to God ; and the rational soul is bound within 
them, like a captive in prison. Moreover, man made his 
condition far worse than it was in his original state ; hav- 
ing made a deplorable fall, through voluptuousness, and 
thus immersed his soul more deeply in the thraldom of 
Matter. God allows evil to exist, that man may have 
freedom to choose. Man can rise from his degraded state, 
by contending against evil, and by following the guidance 
of Sophia, and the angels, whom God sends to his assist- 
ance. Souls who diligently purify themselves, by all the 
Vol. II.— 19 k 


aids thus given, will rise toward superior regions, and 
finally obtain perfect felicity. Those who persevere in 
evil must be condemned to pass from one body to another, 
filled with evil passions. 

This idea of imprisonment in the body, and the conse- 
quent longing to release the spirit from its thraldom, pro- 
duced the same effect on Philo that it had done ages before 
on the devotees of India. He strove to shut out the world, 
and devote himself entirely to meditation on divine things. 
He says: " Often I left kindred, friends, and country, and 
retired into the wilderness, that I might raise my thoughts 
to worthy contemplations ; but I accomplished nothing so. 
My thoughts either scattered abroad, or, wounded by some 
impure impression, fell into the opposite current. But 
sometimes I find myself alone with my soul in the midst 

{ of thousands, when God dispels the tumult from my breast. 

1 And so He teaches me that it is not change of place that 
brings evil, or good; but all depends on that God who 
steers the ship of the soul in the direction he pleases." 

The Oral Traditions of the Jews, both those which 
formed the Talmud, and others known under the name of 
the Cabala, were said to have been secretly handed down 
from Abraham and Moses, through successive series of wise 
men. Philo also taught some ideas to the initiated, which 
they were exhorted to guard carefully. But the Written 
Law was proclaimed to all the people, and from the time 
of Ezra, at least, was constant^ repeated and explained 
to the public. Philo exults in this point of superiority 
over the populace of other nations, and compares it with 
the exclusive system observed by Greeks and Egyptians in 
their Sacred Mysteries. He says: "That which is the 
portion only of a few disciples of a truly genuine philoso- 
phy, the knowledge of the Highest, has become the in- 
heritance of the whole Jewish people, by law and custom." 
He calls the Jews priests and prophets for all mankind. 
He says: "All mysteries, all parade, and trickery of that 
sort, Moses removed from the holy giving of the Law ; for 
he did not wish those who were trained under such a form 


of religious policy to be exposed, by having their minds 
dazzled with mysterious things, to neglect the truth, and 
to follow after that which belongs to night and darkness, 
disregarding what is worthy of the light and of the day. 
Hence no one of those that know Moses, and count them- 
selves among his disciples, should allow himself to be initi- 
ated into such mysteries, or to initiate others ; for both the 
learning and teaching of such mysteries are no trifling 
sins. If the things taught are beautiful and useful, why, 
O ye initiated, do ye shut yourselves up in profound dark- 
ness, and confer the benefit on two or three alone, when 
you might confer it on all, if you were willing to publish 
in the market-place what would be salutary for every one, 
and enable all to participate in a better and happier life ?" 
The Logos of Philo bears a striking similarity to the 
Adam Kadman, or First Adam, of the Oabalists in Pales- 
tine. Both were called " The First Born Son of God," 
and " The Express Image of God." Both were described 
as the Primal Man, or Model Man, because all souls were 
contained in them ; and because human souls thus had part 
and portion in them, they both received the appellation of 
" Mediator," or " Intercessor" between God and mankind. 
The Logos contending with Spirits of Darkness, and radiat- 
ing Light into souls that turned toward him, resembles 
Persian doctrines. In fact, Philo's system seems to be a 
mixture of Plato and Zoroaster, wearing Hebrew forms as 
a garment ; but the Platonic element greatly predominates 
over the Persian ; while the Cabalistic doctrines are de- 
cidedly Oriental in character. 

But Philo, in common with all his countrymen, had a 
strong conviction that every religious truth floating round 
the world must have been derived from a Hebrew source. 
He believed that the children of Israel descended from a 
family, which had preserved in its purity the image of 
God imprinted upon man, and were therefore chosen as 
depositaries of his Law. . 

He scarcely alludes to a personal Messiah, and does not 
intimate that the Logos would assume that character. But 


he draws eloquent pictures of the latter days, when the 
Lord's chosen people would be gathered together from the 
four winds of heaven, under the guidance of a Heavenly 
Spirit, visible to their eyes only. All the nations would 
come and pay voluntary homage to the moral superiority 
of the Jews, and receive from them full streams of know- 
ledge and virtue. Ferocious animals, subdued by this 
holy influence, would become the gentle companions of 
man, and the fruitful earth would be clothed with beauty, 
beyond the power of imagination to conceive. Unlike 
most of his countrymen, he denied the destruction of the 
world by fire. The reader is left to infer that it would re- 
main in perennial youth. 

The morality of Philo was pure and elevated, tending 
to asceticism in its strictness. He says: '"The true disci- 
ples of Moses exercise continence, frugality, and patience ; 
they disregard wealth, pleasure, and glory ; they use food 
merely to sustain life • they are ready to endure all hard- 
ships for virtue's sake ; they are content with mean cloth- 
ing, and esteem luxury a disgrace and a reproach ; to them 
the grassy sod is a precious bed, with boughs and leaves 
for covering, and a stone for a pillow. The luxurious con- 
sider this a hard life, but the followers of virtue think it 
delightful." Such views inevitably grew out of his Oriental 
ideas concerning the sinfulness of Matter,, and the degra- 
dation of inhabiting a body. To him God was all in all, 
and this world a mere fleeting shadow. He depreciated 
human learning, and maintained that all true knowledge 
came directly from God to the soul, by intuition, in exalted 
states of faith, or revealed in dreams, when the mind was 

His writings were extensively read by Hellenistic Jews, 
and had great influence over their opinions. This was 
especially true of those who resided in Egypt. He was 
also much read by the best educated of the early Christians. 
The stern image of the Hebrew Jehovah was rendered 
more mild and attractive thus reflected through the golden 
mist of Platonism. 


After his death, a report was circulated that he became 
a Christian, during the reign of Claudius, and subsequently 
renounced his faith, on account of some mortifications it 
caused him. It was even said that in his old age he be- 
came an intimate friend of the apostle Peter. But it is 
now known that these accounts are unworthy of belief. 
He must have been about seventy years old when Christ 
died, and it is very doubtful whether he heard of him. 
He makes no allusion to Christianity in any part of his 

Apollonius. — Apollonius, of Tyana, in. Cappadocia, 
was born in the latter part of the reign of Augustus, about 
four years before Christ. He belonged to a wealthy 
Grecian family, and numbered several celebrated men 
among his ancestors. An old marine god, named Proteus, 
famous for his prophetic powers, is said to have appeared 
to his mother, previous to his birth, and informed her that 
he himself would be born of her. It is further related 
that she fell asleep in a meadow, while her maidens were 
gathering flowers, and dreamed that a circle of swans sur- 
rounded her. The noise of their singing, and the clapping 
of their wings, wakened her ; and almost immediately af- 
terward she gave birth to a son. The boy, who was thus 
ushered into the world by music from the birds consecrated 
to Apollo, god of prophecy, early attracted attention by 
extraordinary beauty of person, quickness of intellect, and 
tenacity of memory. At fourteen years of age, he was 
sent to Tarsus, to pursue his studies with an Epicurean 
philosopher. The prevailing extravagance in dress, the 
luxurious habits, and the fondness for shows, seemed to 
him unfavourable to philosophic pursuits, and he obtained 
his father's permission to remove to ^Egse, a famous resort 
for the learned men of that time. There he heard philoso- 
phers of various schools discuss their respective theories, 
and listened to them all, with a serious and wakeful mind. 
He always retained much personal affection for his teacher, 
but early manifested the independence of his character by 
Vol. 11.— 19* 


rejecting the doctrines and habits of Epicureans, and at- 
taching himself with great zeal to those of Pythagoras. 
The tutor delighted in choice wines, beautiful women, and 
a luxurious style of living, which had no attractions for his 
sedate pupil. The father of Apoilonius had purchased for 
him a house, with a beautiful garden and fountain. At 
sixteen years of age, the studious youth bestowed these on 
his Epicurean teacher, saying : " Live you in what manner 
you please. I shall live after the manner of Pythagoras." 
After that declaration, he subsisted entirely on fruit and 
vegetables, drank water only, went barefoot, let his hair 
grow, and wore linen all the year round, because every 
substance connected with animals was deemed by him 

When he was twenty years old, his father died, and a 
large fortune was divided between him and an eider 
brother, who was much addicted to wine, gambling, and 
other forms of dissipation. Wishing to gain influence 
over him, he divided his half of the inheritance with him, 
saying: "I need but little, while you want much. Our 
father, who used to advise us, is gone. Let us rely upon 
each other. If I seem to you to do wrong, I beg of you 
to tell me so ; and if I think you are doing wrong, I hope 
you will also listen to me." By his affectionate, gentle 
manner, and his judicious counsels, he gained such influ- 
ence over his elder brother, that he became completely 
reformed. He bestowed nearly all the remainder of his 
fortune upon poor relatives, reserving a very small income 
for himself, but sufficient to supply his simple wants. 

Having thus settled his affairs in Tyana, he returned to 
iEgoe, and spent most of his time in the celebrated temple 
of -ZEsculapius. The fame of his wisdom began to spread 
widely, and such numbers resorted thither to hear him dis- 
course, that the temple became a Lyceum. He attracted 
such crowds, that when any person was seen walking 
rapidly, it was common to say : " Whither go you so fast? 
to hear the young man?" This passed into a proverb, 
which remained in use for centuries. Many miraculous 


cures were performed by iEsculapius, in his temple at 
^Egse, and it was said that the god himself expressed to 
the priest his delight at having Apollonius present on such 
occasions. The priests instructed him in all their secrets, 
whether of science or magic, and he is said to have ac- 
quired remarkable power over the bodies and souls of 
men. He taught the people that bloody sacrifices ought 
not to be offered, "on account of the relationship between 
men and animals ;" and that the only prayer suitable to be 
addressed to Divine Beings was : " ye gods, grant what- 
ever it is best for me to have." When reminded of the 
law of Pythagoras, that a man should have union with 
only one woman, he replied : " That was spoken for others. 
For myself, I have resolved never to marry, and to abstain 
altogether from the society of women." In order to devote 
himself more completely to divine things, he imposed upon 
himself a vow of silence, which he preserved unbroken for 
five years ; and during that time he committed to memory 
a vast amount of reading. Though he never spoke, he 
sometimes communicated with others by writing, and he 
had an expressive way of answering questions, by graceful 
motions of his head and hands. He acknowledged that 
this long period of silence was irksome to him, being often 
oppressed by something he wished to say, and tried se- 
verely by the remarks of those who brought accusations 
against him. Unable to enter into explanations, he drilled 
himself to patience, by inwardly repeating: "Be quiet, 
heart and tongue." It is recorded that no one ever suc- 
ceeded in disturbing the serenity of his temper. Say what 
they would, he was always placid and courteous. Having 
visited Aspendus, in Asia Minor, during his term of silence, 
he found women and children weeping for bread, and the 
enraged populace preparing to burn their governor, whom 
they would not allow to speak in his own defence. By 
earnest gestures, Apollonius signified to the people that 
the governor must be heard. His singular costume and 
majestic deportment arrested their attention, and they con- 
sented to listen to the magistrate, who succeeded in convin- 


cing them that he had been guilty of no injustice ; that the 
famine had been occasioned by certain rich men, who 
hoarded up all the grain. The populace then threatened 
to make a violent onset on the speculators, but Apol- 
lonius, by expressive gestures, persuaded them to leave the 
affair to him. He then wrote the following brief epistle : 
" Apollonius to the Monopolizers of Corn, greeting : The 
earth is the common mother of all men ; for she is just. 
You are unj ust ; for you have made her the mother of your- 
selves only. If you do not desist from this course, I will 
not suffer you to remain upon the earth." The monopo- 
lizers, knowing that the exasperated populace had been 
restrained from violence solely by his power over their 
minds, immediately yielded to his admonition, and filled 
the markets with grain. 

After his term of silence expired, he went to Antioch, 
where he was followed by a great concourse of people. 
Thence he travelled into India. At Nineveh, he became 
acquainted with an Assyrian named Damis, who became a 
very zealous disciple. Hearing of his intention to visit 
the Bramins, he exclaimed: "O Apollonius, let us travel 
together ; thou following the gods, and I following thee." 
He then enumerated many languages of Asia, with which 
he was familiar. Apollonius replied: "I know them all 
myself, though I never learned them. Do not be surprised 
at this; for I can perceive even the thoughts of men, 
though they do not utter them." When Damis heard that, 
" he adored him, believing him to be an Immortal Spirit." 
He followed him everywhere, during the remainder of his 
life, and occupied himself with recording all his sayings 
and doings. To some who accused him of thus seeking to 
perpetuate things too trivial to be remembered, he replied : 
" If the gods give feasts, they have servitors, whose duty it 
is to take care that no particle of ambrosia be lost." 

According to his account, the fame of Apollonius had 
preceded him to Babylon ; the king's brother having pre- 
viously seen him at Antioch, and brought home such a 
description as induced them to treat him with great defer- 


ence. The king, who was partial to Greeks, and well 
versed in their literature, was rejoiced at the arrival of the 
famous Pythagorean philosopher, and offered him apart- 
ments in the palace. Apollonius replied : " Were I to live 
in a house above my condition in life, I should be uncom 
fortable. Every sort of excess is irksome to philosophers, 
as the absence of it is to you, who are the great ones of the 
earth. Eor this reason, I prefer living with some private 
man, whose fortune does not exceed my own." Afterward, 
the king, being much captivated by his conversation and 
manners, sent a messenger to offer him ten boons of his 
own choosing ; particularly requesting that he would ask 
nothing of mean value. Not far distant from Babylon, 
there was a colony descended from Greeks, who had been 
taken captive by Darius. These poor exiles were at that 
time greatly harassed by inroads upon their lands, so that 
they found it difficult to raise a sufficient supply of food. 
Apollonius besought the king to redress their grievances, 
and see that they were justly and generously treated. The 
monarch readily promised this, and inquired what were 
the other nine boons he wished to have conferred upon him. 
He replied : " That which you have granted, I prize more 
than many tens of gifts." " But is there nothing you your- 
self stand in need of?" said the king. "Merely a little 
bread and fruit," replied the philosopher. 

Having remained a year and a half with this hospitable 
prince, improving daily opportunities to converse with 
the most learned of the Magi, he departed for India, well 
provided with camels, provisions, and letters of introduc- 
tion. This journey is described by his disciple Damis, 
with all the credulity that marked that period of the world. 
He records wonderful stories about the resurrection of the 
phcenix from her ashes, and golden treasures guarded by 
griffins. The principal object of Apollonius was to con- 
verse with the Bramins ; whom he describes in a myste- 
rious way, as " men who dwell on the earth, and not on 
the earth ;" " possessing nothing, yet having everything." 
He mentions one of them, who restored sight to the blind, 


renovated a hand long withered, and cured a cripple, by 
simply touching his hip bone. His biographer states 
that in subsequent years "he was perpetually praising the 
sages of India." Not being aware that the ancient religion 
and philosophy of Egypt were nearly identical with sys- 
tems prevailing in the East, he was surprised to find many 
of the deities in India, and many of the religious ceremo- 
nies, so very similar to those established by Grecians, who 
borrowed most of their ideas from Egypt. 

He returned from India, after an absence of five years. 
In Boeotia he entered the celebrated Cave of Trophonius, 
and remained there seven days, asking questions, and 
writing the answers of the oracle in a book, which he car- 
ried everywhere with him. He visited Antioch, Ephesus, 
Athens, Alexandria, Eome, and many other cities ; every- 
where drawing crowds after him by the renown of his 
wisdom, the beauty of his person, and the singularity of 
his dress. He was constantly occupied with discussions 
on his favourite topics of religion and morality, and never 
failed to rebuke extravagance, dissipation and frivolity, 
wherever he witnessed them. The leading object of his 
life was to restore the old Grecian religion on a Pythago- 
rean basis; purifying it from the fables, which he said 
poets had introduced, and restoring to its ceremonies the 
allegorical meaning, which he believed they originally 
possessed. When asked concerning the nature of the wis- 
dom with which he was endowed, he answered : " It is a 
divine instinct, which teaches me what prayers and sacri- 
fices are most proper to be offered to the gods." 

He taught that there was One God, the Father of all, 
and that the numerous deities who were objects of popular 
worship, were intermediate Spirits, employed as agents. 
He invoked these Spirits, and burned frankincense and 
odoriferous wood upon their altars; believing that they 
were the appointed mediators between God and man. He 
always addressed prayers and hymns to the rising sun. 
He abhorred all bloody sacrifices ; and when exhorted to 
offer such, by priests in various countries, he formed some 


fragrant substance into the images of animals, and burned 
them on the altar. To the Supreme Being he offered no 
sacrifices at all; deeming all material objects, even fire, 
impure in his sight. He even thought that prayer to Him 
was polluted by human breath, and should therefore 
ascend silently from the sanctuary of the soul. In his 
work on Offerings he says: "A man may worship the 
Deity far more truly than other mortals, though he neither 
sacrifice animals, nor kindle fires, nor consecrate any out- 
ward thing to that Grod, whom we call The First ; who is 
One, and apart from all, and by whom only we can know 
anything of the other deities. He needs nothing, even of 
what could be given him by natures far more exalted than 
ours. There is no animal that breathes the air, no plant 
the earth nourishes, nothing the world produces, that, in 
comparison with Him, is not impure. The only appropri- 
ate offering to Him is the homage of our superior reason. 
I mean that which cannot be expressed by the lips : the 
silent, inner word of the Spirit. From the Most Glorious 
of all beings, we should seek for blessings by offering that 
which is most glorious in ourselves. Pure spirit, the most 
beautiful portion of our being, has no need of external 
organs to make itself understood by The Omnipresent 

He placed great reliance upon dreams and omens, and 
believed that he was often divinely guided by such agen- 
cies, particularly by those connected with the sun and fire. 
Hence, when he burned offerings on the altars, he always 
carefully observed the shapes assumed by the flame. To 
one of the Egyptian priests, he said: "If you knew the 
wisdom which is latent in fire, you would be able to dis- 
cover many prognostics in the orb of the sun at rising." 
He was universally regarded as a prophet, and a worker of 
miracles. The power to do these wonderful things was 
supposed to' have been derived from some supernatural 
knowledge obtained in the East ; for the belief in magic, 
which took its name from the Persian Magi, was at that 
time almost universal, both with the learned and the un- 


learned. Oracles in various places declared that he was 
endowed with a portion of Apollo's power to cure diseases 
and foresee the future ; and those who were afflicted were 
commanded to apply to him. The priests of Ionia made 
over the diseased to his care, and his cures were considered 
so remarkable, that it is said divine honours were decreed 
to him. At Olympia also the young men wished to wor- 
ship him as a god; but he forbade them; "fearing it 
might give rise to rivalries and jealousies." Embassies 
were frequently sent to him from princes or magistrates, 
who wished to hear him discourse, or to obtain his aid in 
some emergency. "When he approached cities, processions 
of the citizens often came forth to meet him. He might 
have amassed wealth, if he had chosen to accept the gifts 
that were offered to him ; but these he constantly refused, 
as unnecessary to his simple mode of life. His habitual 
prayer was : "O ye gods, grant me to have few things, and 
to stand in need of none." 

At Ephesus, finding the people much occupied with 
dancing, pantomimes, and other shows, he exhorted them 
to leave such frivolous pleasures and devote themselves to 
the pursuit of wisdom. He warned them that a terrible 
pestilence was soon coming; but though they saw him 
visiting all the temples, offering prayers to avert the im- 
pending calamity, they paid no attention to his prediction, 
and rushed on as madly as ever in the pursuit of pleasure. 
Leaving them in that state of mind, he went to Smyrna, 
where a concourse of citizens came forth to meet him, and 
all the people thronged to hear his discourses. While 
there, ambassadors came from Ephesus, begging him to re- 
turn to that city, where a terrible plague was raging, as he 
had prophesied. He went immediately, and as soon as he 
arrived, he said to the Ephesians: "Be not dejected. I 
will this day put a stop to the disease." The people fol- 
lowed him to the theatre, where they saw an old ragged 
beggar, with a wallet of crusts, who winked his eyes in a 
remarkable manner. As soon as Apollonius glanced at 
him, he commanded the people to stone him. They were 


reluctant to do it, because the man was old and poor, and 
was appealing to their compassion. But as Apollonius in- 
sisted that it was necessary, they at last obeyed him. As 
soon as they began to stone the beggar, his winking eyes 
flamed with fury. . Then the Bphesians took him to be a 
wicked demon, and pelted him so zealously, that he was 
soon covered with a pile of stones. Apollonius commanded 
them to remove the stones ; and in lieu of the beggar, they 
found a fierce dog, large as a lion, his mouth covered with 
foam. It is not recorded whether he took any other means 
to cure the plague ; but the pestilence was stayed, and 
the people erected a statue to Apollonius in token of 

At Athens, the philosophers received him with great 
joy; but the High Priest would not admit him to the 
Mysteries, saying it was contrary to law to initiate a 
magician. He was, however, subsequently admitted. 
When invited to attend the gladiatorial shows, he re- 
proved the Athenians for patronizing such cruel sports, 
and told them he marvelled that Minerva continued to 
protect a city where so much blood was shed. There was 
one of the dissipated young citizens, who laughed and 
cried by turns, and talked and sung to himself, without 
apparent cause. His friends supposed these habits were 
the effects of early intemperance ; but Apollonius told him 
he was possessed by a demon ; and " as soon as he fixed 
his eyes upon him, the demon broke out into all those 
horrid violent expressions used by people on the rack, and 
then swore he would depart out of the youth, and never 
enter another." Apollonius required him to give some 
visible sign of his departure. He said: u l will make 
that statue tumble;" and immediately a statue in the 
portico began to totter, and presently fell. The young 
man had not been previously aware that he was possessed 
by a devil ; ' but from that moment, his wild disturbed 
looks changed, he became very temperate, and assumed 
the garb and habits of a Pythagorean philosopher. 

Apollonius subsequently went to Rome, and arrived just 
Vol. II.— 20 


at a time when Nero had passed very severe laws against 
magicians, who were suspected of using their art to aid 
political conspiracies. A philosopher, who met him on 
the way, advised him to turn back ; saying that all who 
wore the philosopher's garb were in danger of being ar- 
rested as magicians. This so intimidated his disciples, that 
of thirty-six only eight accompanied him to Kome. He 
spent most of his time passing from temple to temple, dis- 
coursing concerning religious worship. When asked for 
what he prayed, he answered: " That justice may prevail, 
that the laws may be obeyed, that wise men may be poor, 
and the rest of mankind rich, though not by fraud." The 
singularity of his dress attracted attention whenever he 
appeared in the street, and whatever temple he entered 
was soon crowded with spectators, who thought his pre- 
sence would secure to them greater favours from the gods. 
All who came to him he treated with courtesy, but he 
visited no one, and paid no court to the rich or powerful. 
He was prudently silent concerning Nero, but he could not 
be induced to praise his verses, or his public singing, on 
which the emperor especially prided himself, and which it 
was considered treason not to applaud. He became an 
object of suspicion, and was closely watched. Seeing the 
temples crowded with flatterers of Nero, praying for his 
recovery from a hoarseness which impeded his singing, he 
sought to restrain the indignation of one of his companions 
by saying: "The gods must be forgiven, if they take 
pleasure in the company of buffoons and jesters." These 
words caused his arrest ; but when his accuser appeared 
before the tribunal and unrolled the parchment on which 
the charges against him had been written, he found that 
all the characters had disappeared. Apollonius made 
such an impression on the magistrate by the bold tone 
he assumed, that he was allowed to go where he pleased. 
Of the miracles he is said to have performed at Eome, the 
most memorable is that of having restored a dead maiden 
to life. She belonged to a family of rank, and was just 
about to be married, when she died suddenly. Apollonius 


met the procession that was conveying her body to the 
tomb. He asked them to set down the bier, saying to her 
betrothed : "I will dry up the tears you are shedding for 
this maiden." They supposed he was going to pronounce 
a funeral oration ; but he merely took her hand, bent over 
her, and uttered a few words in a low tone. She opened 
her eyes, and began to speak, and was carried back alive 
and well to her father's house. Her grateful relatives sent 
him a large sum of money, which he bestowed on her as a 
dowry. His biographer says it rained at the time, which 
caused a vapour to rise from the maiden's face ; and it was 
difficult for those present to ascertain whether he restored 
the dead to life, or whether he perceived what others did 
not, that the vital spark was not quite extinct. 

Not long after, he accepted an invitation to visit Alex- 
andria, where his arrival produced a great sensation. A 
pompous procession came to escort him, and "while he 
was passing from the harbour to the town, all made way 
for him in the narrow streets, as was done for those who 
carried the sacred symbols of the gods." On his way, he 
met twelve men, who were led to execution, on the charge 
of robbery. He pointed to one of them, and said: "That 
man has made a false confession." Then turning to the 
executioners, he added: "Take care to have that man re- 
served till the last ; for he is not guilty of the crime for 
which he has been condemned. You will be wise not to 
put him to death at all." Contrary to his usual custom of 
speaking briefly, he now prolonged the conversation, in 
order to detain them. Soon after, a courier arrived in 
hot haste at the place of execution, crying out : " Spare 
Phorion ! It is proved that he is innocent, and that a false 
confession was extorted from him by torture." The man 
was saved, and the Egyptians were lost in wonder at the 
foresight of Apollonius. 

He was said to have remarkable power over animals, 
and to understand their language, like his great pattern 
Pythagoras. There was a man in Alexandria who had a 
tame lion, which he led about with a string, like a dog. 


This noble animal was allowed to enter the temples, but 
he would never lick the blood, or touch the flesh of victims. 
He delighted in bread, and cakes of honey, and would 
caress the spectators, to obtain them. One day, when 
Apollonius was in the temple, he fawned on him more than 
on any other person. People supposed he did it to get 
something to eat; but Apollonius said: "This lion asks 
me to inform you whose soul it is that animates him. It 
is the soul of Amasis, an ancient king of Egypt." As soon 
as the lion heard this, he roared piteously, bent on his 
knees, and burst into tears. Apollonius caressed him, and 
told his owner it was not becoming for a great king, trans- 
formed into the most royal of beasts, to wander up and 
down the world like a mendicant. Accordingly the priests 
took him, dressed him with collars and garlands, offered 
sacrifice to him, and sent him to the district where king 
Amasis formerly resided, accompanied by a procession 
playing on flutes, and singing hymns composed for the 

What principally attracted Apollonius to Egypt was a 
desire to converse with the Gymnosophists ; communities 
of philosophers, or devotees, who lived in solitary places, 
went without clothing, and had their own peculiar ways 
of worshipping. He wished to ascertain whether they were 
equal to the Bramins, whom they were said to resemble. 
One of their young candidates told him that he had re- 
signed his patrimony and joined these naked philosophers, 
in hopes of learning the wisdom of India; because his 
father, who commanded a vessel and traded with that coun- 
try, told him " their sages were the wisest of mortals ; and 
that the Ethiopians were a colony from India, who trod 
very nearly in the wise steps of their forefathers." An- 
other of the Gymnosophists said to Apollonius: "We are 
naked. Here the earth spreads no carpet under our feet. 
It affords us no milk, no wine. We are humble people. 
We live on the earth, and partake of whatever things it 
supplies us with, of its own free will, without labour, and 
unaided by any magical influence. It is enough for a wise 


man that he is pure in whatever he eats, that he touches 
nothing which has had life, that he subdues all those ir- 
regular desires which make their approaches through the 
eyes, and that he removes far from him envy, a fruitful 
source of injustice." Their jealousy was somewhat excited 
by the well-known reverence in which the Bramins were 
held by Apollonius. Therefore, the speaker pointed to an 
elm near by, and said: "I will prove to you that we are 
able to perform things as wonderful, as can be done by the 
sages of India. O tree, salute the wise Apollonius I" As 
soon as the words were uttered, "the tree saluted him, 
speaking in an articulate voice, resembling that of a wo- 
man." Nevertheless, Apollonius told his disciples that the 
Gymnosophists were inferior to the Bramins, because on 
certain occasions he found that they failed to foresee the 
future, and to read his interior thoughts. 

In Egypt, as elsewhere, he frequented the temples, and 
rebuked the people for their quarrelsome disposition, their 
love of horse-races, and gladiatorial combats. His enthu- 
siastic biographer says that while he was thus employed, 
"a beauty shone in his face, and the words he uttered 
were divine." The emperor Vespasian arrived while he 
was in Alexandria, and immediately inquired for the cele- 
brated Tyanean. He formed a great friendship for him, 
delighted to hear him recount his adventures in India, and 
was accustomed to consult him as an oracle in political 
affairs. He frequently urged him to accept large sums of 
money, which were uniformly refused. Vespasian after- 
ward passed laws, which oppressed some of the Grecian 
cities. Having invited Apollonius to visit him again, he 
replied: "Apollonius to the Emperor Vespasian, health: 
You who, in anger, have reduced free people to slavery, 
what need have you of my conversation. Farewell." 

Passing through Tarsus, in his travels, they pointed out 
to him a young man bitten, thirty days before, by a mad 
dog, and who was then running on all fours, barking and 
howling. Apollonius, having obtained a description of 
"the dog, said: "He is now standing near the fountain, 
Vol. II.— 20* 


wishing to drink, but afraid of the water, Go bring him 
hither. You have only to say that I want him." He then 
went on to say that Telephus was cured by the same spear 
that wounded him ; that his soul had transmigrated into 
the rabid youth, who was subject to the same destiny. 
Accordingly, when the dog was brought, he patted him, 
and induced him to lick the place he had bitten. Where- 
upon, the young man was soon restored to his right mind. 
Then Apollonius offered up prayers for the diseased ani- 
mal, and put him into the river ; saying that water was 
medicinal for mad dogs, as soon as they were able to en- 
dure it. The dog swam the stream, shook himself on the 
other side, wagged his tail, and ran off cured. 

Apollonius was intimate with ISTerva ; and the emperor 
Titus, during his short reign, frequently asked his advice. 
For these reasons, he became an object of jealousy to 
Domitian, who feared that conspiracies might be aided by 
his magical powers. Accordingly, when he revisited 
Rome, and his appearance in the streets as usual " excited 
admiration, which bordered on something divine," that 
emperor caused him to be arrested, on charge of allowing 
himself to be worshipped, speaking against the reigning 
powers, pretending that his words were inspired by the 
gods, predicting that ISTerva would succeed to the throne, 
and sacrificing a child in some magical ceremonies to bring 
about that event. He was summoned to the palace, where 
he denied the charges against him, and declared that ISTerva 
was a mild, excellent man, little inclined to meddle with 
affairs of state. Domitian, in a rage, ordered him to be 
loaded with irons, and cast into prison. "I have bound 
you," said he, " and you will not escape me, unless by your 
magical arts you change yourself into water, or a wild 
beast, or a tree." The prisoner replied that if he was an 
enchanter he would not use his power to escape, lest by so 
doing he should injure those who were implicated in his 

His stedfast disciple Damis was in despair, and spent his 
time in praying to the gods to deliver them from their 


perilous situation. One day visiting his master in prison, 
he asked him when he thought he should recover his 
liberty. He answered : " This instant, if it depended on 
myself." And drawing his legs out of the shackles, he 
added : " Keep up your spirits. You see the freedom I en- 
joy." Damis says he was then convinced that his nature 
was something more than human. He was brought to 
trial not long after, and so defended himself, that the em- 
peror was induced to acquit him, but forbade him to leave 
Rome. The philosopher thanked him, and spoke some 
bold words concerning the miserable state of the empire 
under his suspicious administration; adding: "Listen to 
me, if you will. If not, send persons to take my body. It 
is impossible to take my soul. You cannot kill me, be- 
cause I am not mortal." As soon as he had uttered these 
words, "he vanished from the tribunal." How he disap- 
peared is not explained. It is recorded that "after he 
departed, Domitian behaved like a man under a divine 
influence, in a way not easy to be explained, being totally 
different from the expectations of those best acquainted 
with the tyrant." 

Damis had been previously sent away from Rome, with 
the promise that his master would soon rejoin him. Apol- 
lonius vanished from the presence of the emperor at noon. 
On the evening of the same day, he suddenly appeared 
before Damis and some other friends, who were at Puteoli, 
more than a hundred miles from Rome. They started, 
being doubtful whether or not it was his spirit. But he 
stretched out his hand, saying : " Take it ; and if I escape 
from you, regard me as an apparition." When he told 
them he had made his defence in Rome, only a few hours 
before, they marvelled how he could have performed the 
journey so rapidly. He said they must " ascribe it to a 

He afterward travelled to various parts of Greece, but 
resided principally at Bphesus, where he established a 
school of Pythagorean philosophy, occup}dng himself with 
.questions of morality, rather than of science. One day, 


when a multitude were listening to him in groves near the 
city, his voice suddenly fell, as if he were alarmed by 
something. He lost the thread of his discourse, and finally 
became silent. Then suddenly advancing three or four 
steps, he cried aloud: "Strike the tyrant! Strike him I" 
Turning to the audience, he said: "Rejoice, Ephesians! 
The tyrant is killed. This very moment the deed is done. 
The news will soon be here. Meanwhile, I will go and 
return thanks to the gods for what I have seen." A courier 
afterward arrived, bringing tidings that Domitian had been 
stabbed at Eome ; and it was ascertained that the murder 
took place at the moment Apollonius had spoken. This 
circumstance of course greatly increased his reputation for 

He is supposed to have lived more than a century. 
"When Nerva succeeded to the throne, ninety-six years 
after our era, it is said the aged philosopher was still vigor- 
ous in mind and agreeable in person. The emperor invited 
him to come and assist him with his wise counsels. He 
replied : " We shall live together a long time, during which 
we shall not command others, nor will others command us." 
It was afterward supposed that he knew he was about to 
die, and that the reign of Nerva would be a short one. He 
never spoke on the subject to Damis. He sent him to 
Rome with a letter, and said at parting : " Whenever you 
are alone, and your whole soul given up to philosophy, 
think of me." When the disciple returned, he could find 
no traces of his beloved teacher. Some say he died at 
Ephesus ; others that his last days were spent in Crete. 
There was a temple of Diana in that place, containing rich 
treasures, guarded by furious dogs. Apollonius frequented 
the temple whenever he chose, at all hours of the day and 
night. The dogs did not bark at him, but fawned upon 
him with the utmost affection. Once, after he had entered 
the temple at midnight, the priests heard sweet voices 
singing: "Leave the earth, and come to heaven! Cornel 
Come !" Apollonius returned no more. This story in- 
duced many to believe that he was carried to the gods, 


without dying. Philostratus, his biographer, says : " I do 
not remember ever to have seen any tomb, or cenotaph, 
raised in honour of him ; though I have gone over most 
parts of the known world, and in all countries met men 
who told wonderful things of him." He elsewhere plainly 
implies doubts whether he ever died. 

A young man, who did not believe in the immortality 
of the soul, visited Tyana, and during ten months prayed 
to the departed Apollonius that his spirit would become 
visible, and thus resolve his doubts. At last he grew 
weary, and said jestingly to his fellow students : " He, poor 
man, is so dead that he cannot hear me; or he would ap- 
pear, in answer to my prayers, to prove that he is immor- 
tal." Five days after, he chanced to fall into a sound sleep 
in the midst of the same companions, some of whom were 
reading, others tracing geometrical figures in the sand. 
Suddenly he started up in a perspiration, exclaiming: "I 
believe you, now." When asked what he meant, he re- 
plied : " Don't you see Apollonius there, listening to our 
disputations? Haven't you heard him saying wonderful 
things about the soul ?" They said they did not ; though 
they would give the richest earthly possessions in exchange 
for such a sight. The youth then concluded that the vision 
was sent solely to enlighten him. 

The fame of Apollonius long survived him, and many 
honours were paid to his memory. The emperor Adrian 
made a collection of his letters, which he preserved in his 
palace at Antium. Among them was the book of oracular 
answers brought from the cave of Trophonius. The 
emperor Caracalla ordered a temple to be erected, and de- 
dicated to his memory. The emperor Alexander Severus 
caused his statue to be placed in the imperial chapel, to- 
gether with those of Abraham, Orpheus, and Christ. 
When the emperor Aurelian took Tyana, he treated the 
inhabitants with great lenity, because it was the birth-place 
of Apollonius, and therefore regarded by many as a sacred 
city. The Tyanians, proud of their distinguished country- 
man, declared that he was a son of Jupiter ; but he al- 


ways said he was the son of Apollonius, whose name he 
bore. It was a common tradition among them that a 
flash of lightning descended to the earth, then rose sud- 
denly, and vanished in the heavens, at the moment he was 

The record of his life, by his disciple Damis, was written 
in an unpleasing style, and was therefore not sought by 
those who copied books for sale. But the empress Julia, 
wife of Alexander Severus, was so much interested in its 
contents, that she requested Flavius Philostratus, an Athe- 
nian author of reputation, to collect, from that and other 
sources, all that was known of Apollonius, and write an 
account of him in more attractive style. He did this more 
than one hundred years after the death of Apollonius, 
when many traditions concerning him were afloat. His 
book is often referred to by cotemporary writers. The 
early Christian Fathers, in alluding to it, do not deny the 
miracles it recounts, but attribute them to the aid of Evil 
Spirits, procured by magical arts. Philostratus himself 
expresses his belief that a man could learn the language 
of animals by eating the liver of a dragon ; and this re- 
mark merely indicates the universal credulity of his time. 
Nothing in the volume implies that either Apollonius or 
his biographer was at all acquainted with the history or 
doctrines of Christ. 

Simon Magus. — Simon, the Samaritan, produced marked 
effects on the times succeeding him ; being the progenitor 
of a large class of sects, which long troubled the Christian 
church. He is therefore entitled to a passing notice. A 
knowledge of magic had spread from Central Asia into 
Syria, by means of the return of the Jews from Babylon, 
and had afterward extended widely through the mixing of 
nations, produced by Alexander's conquests. In Simon's 
time, it was almost universally believed that men could 
foretell events, cure diseases, and obtain control over the 
forces of nature, by the aid of Spirits, if they knew how to 
invoke them. It was Simon's proficiency in this occult 


science, which gained him the surname of Magus, or 

The Christian Scriptures informs us that when Philip 
went into Samaria to preach Christ, he found " a certain 
man called Simon, who had used sorcery and bewitched 
the people, giving out that he himself was some great one ; 
to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, 
saying: This man is the Great Power of God." When 
Simon saw Philip performing miracles, he was baptized 
by him ; perhaps thereby expecting to receive the Holy 
Spirit, because he had heard that it descended on Jesus at 
baptism. Afterward, when Peter and John went into 
Samaria to preach, and " Simon saw by laying on of the 
apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them 
money, saying : Give me also this power, that on whomso- 
ever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost." He 
probably asked this because he had been accustomed to 
pay for instruction in magical arts, of which he supposed 
that the power of the apostles was only a new manifesta- 
tion. Peter indignantly replied : " Thy money perish with 
thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may 
be purchased with money. Eepent, therefore, of this 
wickedness, and pray to God if perhaps the thought of thy 
heart may be forgiven thee." A reverent willingness to 
believe in all marvellous power is implied by Simon's 
meek response: "Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none 
of these things which ye have spoken come upon me." 

Desire to obtain an increase of magical power, was 
probably all that attracted him toward the teachers of 
Christianity ; for the Scriptures make no further allusion 
to him, and subsequent traditions represent him as acting 
in opposition to them. His doctrines seem to have been a 
mixture of Persian and Hindoo ideas, with variations of 
his own. He taught that the Source of all Good dwelt in 
plenitude of Light. From him emanated three successive 
couples of united beings, masculine and feminine. The 
first feminine emanation, he called Ennoia, which means 
Interior Thought. From her proceeded Spirits of greater 


or less degree of perfection. By their assistance, she 
created the world, and entrusted them with the govern- 
ment of it. He supposed that Matter was a dark, chaotic 
mass, co-eternal with God. Moral and physical disorders 
were mere perversities occasioned by the soul's contact 
with it, and were observable only in the inferior world. 
He accounted for the ascendancy of evil in a manner 
peculiarly his own. According to him, the Spirits em- 
ployed by Ennoia to create the world, and afterward to 
govern it, became jealous of her superiority. They felt 
humiliated in performing the part of simple agents, and 
resolved to combine together to enfranchise themselves. 
They accordingly seized her and held her captive. They 
detached the inferior world, of which they were masters, 
from the superior world, of which they were subjects ; and 
to be free from any fear that Ennoia would return to her 
former dominion, they exiled her into a human body. 
From that time, evil triumphed over good in the world. 
To impede its progress, emanations from the Supreme had 
appeared to various nations, with instructions adapted to 
their wants. In an especial manner, God had spoken by 
his Holy Spirit to the Greeks. But Ennoia still languished 
far from her native sphere, subject to transmigration, and 
enslaved by material laws. She became the victim of all 
manner of abuse and ignominy, and sunk into the depths 
of degradation. Hindoo Vedas, Pythagoras, Plato, and 
Cabalists, all represented mortals as souls fallen from 
spheres of light, imprisoned in bodies, and striving to re- 
turn whence they came. But the fall was always by their 
own fault ; while Ennoia was an innocent victim, dragged 
down by others, and forever longing to be restored to the 
heavenly home, from which she had been forcibly with- 

At last, the Wisdom of the Supreme, corresponding to 
the Logos, weary of these disorders, descended in the form 
of Simon Ma«;us, to rescue her, and redeem the world from 
evil. Simon said he found the exiled Ennoia in the form 
of a beautiful Tyrian slave, named Helen, who was leading 


a very impure life. He purchased her, and she became 
his inseparable companion. He travelled about preaching, 
and made many proselytes. He professed to be " The 
Wisdom of God," "The Word of God," "The Paraclete, 
or Comforter," "The Image of the Eternal Father, mani- 
fested in the flesh," in order to subdue demons. Helen 
being the incarnation of Bnnoia, he called her " Mother 
of the Universe," sometimes "The Yirgin of God," or 
"The Spouse of God." It is said some of his Greek 
proselytes worshipped them, under the name of Jupiter 
and Minerva. 

Simon did not consider the Jehovah of the Jews as the 
Supreme Being, but as leader of the Spirits who created 
the world and were entrusted with its government. Of 
course, the Hebrew Books inspired by Jehovah could not 
be regarded by him as a perfect guide for men. He did 
not change their character by allegorical interpretation, as 
Philo had done, but unscrupulously condemned the text. 
Of course, those who acknowledged his supernatural claims, 
placed him far above Moses and the Prophets. They be- 
lieved he was the First Born of the Supreme, sent on 
earth to free men from the imperfect laws given by Je- 
hovah, who was one of the rebelling Spirits. 

Simon denied the resurrection of the body, on the ground 
that pure souls would be polluted by re-union with flesh. 
He supposed the wicked would transmigrate into inferior 
forms, as an expiation of their sins. Holy souls would 
ascend to the realms of light whence they came. His fol- 
lowers often called God " The Eoot of the Universe." All 
their aspirations were to become like him, that they might 
be re-united to the Source whence all beings proceeded. 
They produced a Gospel, called The Four Corners of the 
World. Simon also composed some works, of which 
slight fragments remain. That he made a lively impres- 
sion on his cotemporaries is indicated by the subsequent 
extension of his doctrines, under varied forms, by the won- 
derful stories which the Christian Fathers relate of him, 
and by the strong dislike they manifest toward him. 
Vol. II.— 21 b 


According to their accounts, he could make his appear- 
ance wherever he pleased to be at any moment; could 
poise himself on the air; make inanimate things move, 
without visible assistance; produce trees from the earth 
suddenly ; cause a sickle to reap without hands ; change 
himself into the likeness of any other person, or even into 
the forms of animals ; fling himself from high precipices 
unhurt ; walk through the streets accompanied by spirits 
of the dead ; create a man from the atmosphere ; and ani- 
mate statues, so that they seemed to be alive. They say 
that when he found the Apostles of Christ excelled him in 
miraculous power, he quitted Samaria, flung his magical 
books into the Dead Sea, and went to Eome, where he be- 
came a favourite with the emperor Claudius, and afterward 
with ISTero. In about two years, Peter and Paul followed 
him to the imperial city. Hearing that he gave himself 
out to be an incarnated Spirit of God, and asserted that he 
could raise the dead, they challenged him to a public trial 
of his skill. He accordingly attempted to restore a dead 
young man to life, and after he had failed in the attempt, 
Peter and Paul succeeded. He next attempted to fly 
in presence of the emperor and a multitude of people. 
Crowned with laurel, he flung himself from a high tree, 
and floated awhile in the air. But Peter knelt down in 
prayer, and commanded the Evil Spirits, who held him up, 
to let go their hold ; and immediately he fell to the ground 
and was dashed to pieces. 

Those who believed in Simon Magus thought he per- 
formed wonderful things because he was the Great Power 
of God. His Christian opponents did not deny the mar- 
vels, but attributed them to the agency of Evil Spirits. 
Whatever might be the real foundation for the extraordi- 
nary stories related of him, the theories he taught afterward 
re-appeared in various forms, to the great annoyance of the 
Christian church. Irenoeus, one of the earliest of the Chris- 
tian Fathers, says : " All who in any way corrupt the truth, 
or mar the preaching of the church, are disciples and suc- 
cessors of Simon, the Samaritan magician." 


CemntHUS. — Cerinthus, who was born in Judea, and 
had a Jewish education, followed very soon after. He 
resided in Alexandria when Christianity was first begin- 
ning to be taught there. He professed to believe in Jesus, 
but having imbibed oriental ideas concerning the degrada- 
tion of Matter, he was unwilling to suppose that a Son of 
God could be born of woman, and clothed with human 
flesh. He, therefore, concluded that the Christ was a Spirit, 
who dwelt with God before the world was made, but that 
Jesus was a mere man, the son of Joseph and Mary. By 
his justice, wisdom, prudence, and benevolence, he was 
powerful above other men, and became worthy to receive 
from the Supreme Being the communication of the Christ, 
who entered his soul at baptism, and continued allied to 
him through his mortal life. By this union, Jesus was 
enabled to work miracles, and was exalted above all the 
Spirits who govern this world. He was also thus intro- 
duced into perfect acquaintance with the Supreme Being, 
of whom he, in common with all the Jews, was ignorant, 
until the time of his baptism. The important revelation 
then received, it was his mission to communicate to man- 
kind. The Christ left Jesus before his crucifixion, and 
ascended to Heaven, whence he came ; but at the resurrec- 
tion of the dead, he would be again united with him, and 
establish in Jerusalem a kingdom of perfect felicity, which 
would continue a thousand years. 

Cerinthus was well acquainted with the allegorical school 
of Philo, and wished to retain many of the Mosaic rites, as 
significant spiritual types. He also thought some portions 
of the Law were worthy of observance, but taught his fol- 
lowers to regulate their lives mainly by the precepts of 
Christ. He regarded Jehovah as merely the delegated 
Creator and Euler of this world : a subaltern Spirit, unac- 
quainted with the character and purposes of the Supreme 
One, and incapable of appreciating them. He admitted that 
there were many good things in the Hebrew Sacred Books ; 
but he considered them revelations from an inferior order 
of Spirits. He said an Angel instructed Moses in legisla- 


tion, and other Angels of a lower rank had instructed the 
Prophets. His followers had a Gospel concerning Jesus, 
which is described as nearly resembling the Gospel by 
Matthew ; but of course it did not contain the account of 
the miraculous conception, which was directly at variance 
with the doctrines he taught. They rejected the other 
Christian Scriptures, and had an Apocalypse peculiar to 
themselves, which they said was written by the Apostles. 
It contained glowing descriptions of Christ's reign on earth, 
ornamented with Jewish imagery of the wealth and gran- 
deur of Jerusalem. 

The claims of Cerinthus were less ambitious than those 
of Simon Magus. He did not assume to be a Power of 
God, or the Messiah, or a Prophet. He merely said that 
he received some of his revelations from angels. He went 
to Ephesus to teach ; and it was a tradition among the early 
Fathers, that the Apostle John encountered him there. Ire- 
nseus says John inserted in his Gospel that "the Word was 
made flesh and dwelt among men," for the express purpose 
of refuting Cerinthus. He is likewise supposed to allude 
to him in his Epistles, where he says : " Who is a liar, but 
he that denieth Jesus is the Christ ? Many deceivers are 
entered into the world, who confess not that Christ has 
come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 
Receive him not into your house, neither bid him God 
speed." The Apostle considered such teachers as an addi- 
tional proof that the expected millennium was nigh at 
hand. He says: "Little children, it is the last time. Ye 
have heard that antichrist shall come. Even now there 
are many antichrists ; whereby we know that it is the last 
time." Irenoeus states that Polycarp, who was personally 
acquainted with John, was accustomed to tell the following 
anecdote of him : One day the Apostle entered a bath in 
Ephesus, and seeing Cerinthus there, he turned away hast- 
ily, saying to his own companions : " Let us escape, lest the 
building should fall upon our heads while Cerinthus is 
within." Some suppose this is one of the things which 


ought to be attributed to John the Presbyter, a disciple of 
the Apostle. 


While these influences from old religions and philoso- 
phies were floating toward the small stream of Christianity, 
the persecution of the government, after brief suspension, 
was renewed. Trajan, one of the wisest and best of the 
Roman emperors, who came to the throne ninety- eight 
years after the birth of Christ, received numerous com- 
plaints from the officers of his empire, that the Christians 
blasphemed the gods, and refused to pay the customary 
homage to his statue. Events during the thirty years 
preceding Trajan had greatly tended to increase animosity 
between Jews and Komans. Roman governors had greatly 
oppressed the Jews, and Yespasian had required them to 
pay taxes to rebuild the Temple of Jupiter, at Jerusalem, 
which had been destroyed during their civil wars. The 
Jews had at last broken out into furious rebellion, and 
Titus, in quelling the tumult, had destroyed their city and 
temple. In consequence of these events, the Jews were 
more than ever regarded as obstinate and incorrigible sub- 
jects. Christians, being generally confounded with their 
ancestral nation, were involved in the prejudice against 
them. On the other hand, Jews incurred additional odium 
in consequence of the proceedings of Christians ; and they 
disliked them so heartily, that they were always eager to 
circulate reports to their disadvantage. They continued 
to say, as in the times of Paul : " These men do contrary 
to the decrees of Caesar ; saying there is another king, one 
Jesus." The accusation of intending to subvert the re- 
ligion and overthrow the government of Rome, and to 
establish a new kingdom upon the ruins, was apparently 
sustained by the habitual expressions of Christians con- 
cerning the speedy coming of their king. Public rumour, 
•always ready to assail the unpopular, also charged them 
Vol. II.— 21* 


with shameful vices ; such as indiscriminate licentiousness 
at their midnight assemblies, and the eating of human flesh 
at one of their religious ceremonies. Though these mom 
strous charges originated in confounding the meetings and 
usages of Christians with the nocturnal assemblies of other 
sects and associations, they were generally believed. 

In consequence of the complaints made to Trajan he 
issued an edict against secret societies, and forbade the 
Christians to hold meetings. He, however, manifested his 
moderation by appointing Pliny the Younger, an intelli- 
gent and conscientious man, Governor of Bithynia, where 
the new sect were numerous, and had many enemies. He 
moreover instructed him not to search for any Christians, 
and not to listen to any anonymous charges against them. 
If brought before his tribunal by a regular accuser, they 
were to be strictly examined. If found guilty of being 
Christians, they were to be put to death, unless they re- 
tracted, and offered sacrifice to the gods of the empire. 

Pliny found himself in an embarrassing position between 
his humane feelings as a man, and what he thought was 
his duty as a Eoman magistrate. It was on this occasion 
that he wrote the following memorable letter to the em- 
peror: "1 have never been present at any trial of the 
Christians, so that I know not well why, or how much, 
they are punished, or prosecuted ; whether a pardon should 
be granted to those who recant, and whether the name 
itself, without criminal actions, is to be punished. I have 
interrogated those who have been accused before me as 
Christians. If they confessed it, I questioned them a 
second and a third time, and threatened them with death. 
If they persisted, I ordered them to execution ; for I did 
not doubt, whatever principles they might profess, they 
deserved punishment for their pertinacity and inflexible 
obstinacy. An anonymous list was sent to me containing 
the names of many, who, upon examination, denied that 
they were, or had been Christians. In obedience to my 
orders, they invoked the gods, and sacrificed with wine and 
incense before your image, which I had ordered to be set 


before them with the statues of the deities. They also 
reviled Christ ; and it is said the genuine Ghristian cannot 
be induced to do any of these things. Others were named 
by informers, who at first confessed themselves Christians, 
but afterward denied it. Some said they had belonged to 
the community, but had since left it; some three years, 
some longer ; and one or two above twenty years. They 
all worshipped your image, and the statues of the gods; 
and they also reviled Christ. They affirmed that the 
whole of their fault, or error lay in this : that they were 
wont to meet together on a stated day, before it was light, 
and sing among themselves, alternately, a hymn to Christ, 
as to God, and bind themselves by an oath, not to commit 
any wickedness, but to refrain from theft, robbery, and 
adultery ; never to falsify their word, nor to deny a pledge 
committed to them, when called upon to return it. When 
these things were performed, it was their custom to sepa- 
rate, and then meet together again at a meal, which they 
ate in common, without any disorder. [This was probably 
the Lord's Supper.] But they said they had discontinued 
this, since the publication of my edict forbidding associa- 
tions, by your command. After receiving this account, I 
judged it the more necessary to examine, and that by tor- 
ture, two maid-servants, who were called ministers ; but I 
have discovered nothing except a bad and excessive super- 
stition. Therefore, I have suspended all judicial proceed- 
ings, and apply to you for advice. It appears to me a 
matter highly deserving of consideration ; especially upon 
account of the great number of persons, who are in danger 
of suffering; for many people, of all ages, of every rank, 
and of both sexes, are accused, and will be accused. The 
contagion has seized not cities only, but lesser towns also, 
and the open country. Nevertheless, it seems to me that 
it may be restrained and corrected. It is certain that the 
temples which were once almost deserted, now begin to be 
more frequented ; and the sacred solemnities, after a long 
intermission, are revived. Yictims likewise are every- 
where bought up ; whereas for a time they had few pur- 


chasers. Whence it may be inferred what numbers of 
men might be reclaimed, if opportunity were granted them 
for repentance." 

The two maid- servants, mentioned as ministers, were 
probably deaconesses ; for it would have been contrary to 
the instructions of Paul to allow women to become teachers. 
That servants were intrusted with such an honourable and 
responsible office indicates the democratic ideas of rank, 
which prevailed among primitive Christians. 

Though Trajan and Pliny were eminent for justice and 
moderation, yet reverence for the religious forms in which 
they had been educated, and which they considered essen- 
tial to the preservation of the state, led them to sanction 
acts of great cruelty toward those humble non-conformists. 
But though some were intimidated and abjured their faith 
for a time, a far greater number preferred martyrdom. 
The governor of Palestine wrote to Trajan: "I am quite 
tired out with punishing and destroying the Galileans, ac- 
cording to your commands ; and yet they cease not to offer 
themselves to be slain. Though I have laboured, both by 
threatening and persuasion, to make them avoid being 
known as Christians, yet can I not stave them off from 
being persecuted." 

Adrian, who succeeded Trajan, one hundred and seven- 
teen j^ears after Christ, received complaints from magis- 
trates in various parts of his empire, concerning difficulties 
connected with the Christians, who were frequently assailed 
by mobs, on one pretext or another. There were many 
causes in the then existing state of things to produce this 
general unpopularity. Christians were not only obliged 
by their conscientious scruples to refrain from sacrifices 
and prayers to the acknowledged gods of the country, bat 
they could not be civil officers, or attend public festivals, 
or social feasts, or the marriages or funerals of friends or 
acquaintances, who were not Christians, because all such 
occasions were more or less mingled with ceremonies in 
honour of the gods. The Koman senate was held in a tem- 
ple, or some other consecrated place, and before proceeding 


to business, each senator poured wine to the gods, or drop- 
ped frankincense on their altars. The garlands worn at 
weddings, the libations poured at feasts, the holy water 
from the temples, sprinkled for purification at funerals, were 
all representative of a worship connected with idolatry, 
and therefore odious to the Christian mind. This induced 
habits of separation, which made them appear morose and 
unsocial. Many were grieved, or vexed, by having wives 
or daughters, sons or brothers, converted to a faith which 
ruined their worldly prospects, and endangered their per- 
sonal safety. Their increasing numbers began to make a 
great difference in the sale of animals for sacrifice, and in 
various other articles of trade connected with the estab- 
lished religion. Moreover, the fears of the people were 
really alarmed by the progress of the innovation. They 
sincerely believed that the fruitfulness of a field was affected 
by the offerings laid on the altar of Ceres; that health was 
endangered by any disrespect to JEsculapius; that their 
friends would be shipwrecked, if the worship of Neptune 
was neglected; and that bad luck would follow a city or 
village, if the Temple of Fortune was deserted. Philoso- 
phers privately smiled at the literal sense in which these 
things were understood, and satisfied their own intellect by 
either regarding them as poetic fables, or adopting them as 
significant allegories. But to the populace, the literal story 
and the outward form were realities. They had the fullest 
faith that the gods needed sacrifices and prayers from mor- 
tals, as men needed their foresight and protection. Per- 
fumes and music were supposed to be agreeable to divine 
beings, and the odour of consuming sacrifice to be a kind 
of sustenance suited to their ethereal nature. It was by no 
means an uncommon idea that an unbelieving age might 
actually starve the gods, on whom public and private pros- 
perity depended. Having these views strongly fixed in 
their minds by the education of centuries, it was natural 
that the timid and reverent, as well as the selfish and vio- 
lent, should regard Christians as atheists, and enemies to 
the state. If a long time passed without rain on the earth, 


if a building was struck by lightning, if many were ob- 
served to be absent from the religious festivals, it needed 
but one exciting word to set the populace furiously upon 
the Christians, and to cause them to be dragged before the 
intimidated magistrates, with the clamorous outcry : " Send 
them to the lions!" In such scenes, the persecuted sect 
suffered much and continually, both in person and prop- 
erty. Adrian, whose policy was pacific and humane, when 
not provoked by rebellions, issued an edict to protect them 
from such outbursts of popular fury; commanding the 
magistrates to proceed carefully according to the laws, and 
never to yield to the clamour of the multitude. 

His successor was the gentle Antoninus Pius r who came to 
the throne one hundred and thirty-eight years after our era. 
The policy of his government was indicated by his saying : 
" I had rather save the life of a single citizen, than cause 
the death of a thousand enemies." An unusual number of 
public calamities occurred during his reign. There were 
earthquakes, famine, inundation of the Tiber, and destruc- 
tive fires at Rome, Antioch, and Carthage. The populace 
attributed these misfortunes to the impiety of the Chris- 
tians, and made violent attacks upon them in many places. 
The emperor did not repeal existing laws on the subject^ 
being himself a devout worshipper of the gods ; but he 
wrote to the provincial governors, expressing strong disap- 
probation of such persecution, and forbidding any illegal 
or excessive severities. The Christians had then become 
numerous, and were constantly acquiring increased influ- 
ence by the accession of intelligent and learned men, at- 
tracted by the pure morality of their doctrines, and their 
undoubting faith in a blissful existence hereafter. They 
now ventured to address the throne ; and though it was in 
the form of an Apology, they asserted the moral superiority 
of the religion they professed, and claimed their right to 
freedom of conscience. Communities were growing up in 
all parts of the empire, independent to a certain degree, 
being internally regulated by their own bishops and pres- 
byters, and proceeding with open non-conformity to the 


established laws concerning religion. These small scat- 
tered republics were in constant communication with each 
other by epistles, and interchange of visits among the 
bishops, while they were all very closely bound together 
by their proscribed faith, and the many sufferings it had 
caused them. 

During forty years, the afflicted churches, though some- 
times objects of local violence, enjoyed general quiet, and 
had time for peaceful growth. But when Marcus Aurelius 
came to the throne, one hundred and sixty-one years after 
Christ, the scene changed. He was a man of Stoic virtue, 
of devout tendencies, and reverently attached to the reli- 
gion of his ancestors. That he was sincere and conscien- 
tious in his faith, there can be no doubt. He humbly 
thanks the gods for the virtuous example of his father, and 
the pious instructions of his mother. He says : "I owe 
these, and all other good things to the bounty of the gods. 
So far as it depended on their aids and suggestions, I might 
have already attained to a life in harmony with nature. 
That I fall short of this mark is my own fault, and should 
be ascribed to my neglect of following the admonitions, I 
might almost say the express instructions, of the gods." In 
answer to the question often asked by Christians : " How 
do you know the existence of the gods, that you so rever- 
ence them?" he answered: "In the first place, they some- 
times make themselves visible to the eye. Moreover, I 
respect my own soul, though I have never seen it ; so also 
I know the existence of the gods by constantly experi- 
encing the effects of their power; therefore, I reverence 
them." He believed that those who honoured the Deities 
often received revelations in dreams, to assist them in emer- 
gencies, and that he himself had been several times cured 
of diseases, by remedies thus made known to him. He 
took cheerful views of the friendliness of Divine Natures, 
and passed a law that those should be banished, who did 
anything likely to produce fear of the Deity in excitable 
minds. He considered all public calamities as the conse- 
quence of neglected worship. Accordingly, when a pesti- 


lence raged in Italy, he tried to avert the evil by summon- 
ing priests from all quarters of the empire, celebrating 
religious solemnities, and carefully restoring every minute 
particular of the ancient ritual. With these views, he of 
course regarded the Christians with an unfavourable eye. 
The dislike they excited in his mind, by their abhorrence 
of the established worship, was increased by his watchful 
jealousy of associations, always objects of suspicion to the 
Roman government. Moreover, some Christian zealots 
were very imprudent in their prophecies; and some of 
these predictions were all the more likely to influence the 
people and provoke the rulers, because they purported to 
have been uttered by the revered Sibyls of the Eoman reli- 
gion. One of these pretended Sibylline Prophecies, really 
written by Christians, announced the downfall of Rome, 
and distinctly declared that only three emperors should 
reign after Adrian ; that Christ would then come, and 
establish his throne on the ruin of empires. Such descrip- 
tions as the following were very likely to be misunderstood 
by Roman politicians: "0 haughty Rome, the just chas- 
tisement of heaven shall come down upon thee from on 
high. Thou shalt stoop thy neck, and be levelled with 
the ground. Destroyed to thy very foundations, fire shall 
consume thee, and all thy wealth shall perish. Wolves 
and foxes shall dwell among thy ruins, and thou shalt be 
as if thou hadst never been. Sit silent in thy sorrow, O 
guilty and luxurious city I The Yestal Virgins shall no 
longer watch the sacred fire. Thy house is desolate." A 
description of the emperor Adrian is followed by this pre- 
diction: "After him shall reign three, whose times shall 
be the last. O king of Rome, thou shalt mourn, disrobed 
of thy purple and. clad in sackcloth. For there shall be 
confusion over the whole earth, when the Almighty Ruler 
comes, and, seated upon his throne, judges the living and 
the dead of the whole world." 

The earthquakes, insurrections, and pestilence, which oc- 
curred during this and the preceding reign, were regarded 
by Christians as omens of Christ's second coming. The 


Boman people attributed them to the displeasure of the 
gods, on account of their neglected worship. In their ter- 
ror, they redoubled their prayers and sacrifices with a kind 
of frantic zeal. Christians would not assist in any of these 
modes of expiation, and it was moreover general^ believed 
that their irreverence toward the protecting deities of the 
country had originally caused these calamities. Latent 
hostility was roused into violent activity ; and the em- 
peror, who viewed the subject in the same light as his peo- 
ple, sanctioned the most terrible persecutions. Some poor 
slaves, being tortured beyond their powers of endurance, 
confessed that the Christians ate human flesh at their meet- 
ings, and were guilty of indiscriminate licentiousness, even 
with their own mothers and sisters. These extorted con- 
fessions increased the sanguinary prejudice already exist- 
ing. Many innocent victims had their limbs dislocated, 
or their flesh bound with red hot plates of iron. Others 
perished by suffocation in dungeons too noisome to be 
described. A few, under the agony of extreme torture, 
escaped from it by confessions of guilt, and promises to 
abjure their errors. Neither the tenderness of youth nor 
the feebleness of age was spared. Pothinus, Bishop of 
Lyons, nearly ninety years old, was dragged before the 
tribunal. When the legate asked: "Who is the God of 
the Christians?" he answered, with calm dignity: "You 
shall come to the knowledge of him, when you show your- 
self worthy of it." Whereupon, the surrounding crowd at- 
tacked him with such fury, that the breath of life scarcely 
remained within him. But though his feeble body failed, 
his mind remained firm to the last. When half killed by 
a series of brutalities, he was thrown into a dungeon, where 
he survived but two days. Some who renounced their faith 
during the first examination were smitten with remorse, 
publicly acknowledged themselves Christians, and were put 
to death. By far the greater part were stedfast and firm 
through all the tortures that could be inflicted on them. 
Survivors, who described these scenes, in letters to the 
churches, say : " It was manifested how they were bedewed 
Vol. II.— 22 


and invigorated by the spring of living water, that flows 
from the heart of Christ; how nothing is dreadful where 
love of the Father dwells; nothing painful, where the glory 
of Christ prevails." 

Ponticus, a youth of fifteen, and Blandina, a young fe- 
male slave, were brought out together to be thrown to the 
wild beasts. They first tried to intimidate them by com- 
pelling them to witness the sufferings of others ; and find- 
ing that ineffectual, they resorted to torture. The mistress 
of Blandina, who was in prison, under the same condem- 
nation, was fearful that the extremity of suffering might 
tempt the poor young creature to deny her faith. But she 
remained strong and patient under all the torments they 
could inflict. While suspended to a stake, her prayers 
strengthened and cheered two other martyrs, who were 
waiting the attack of lions. She was brought into the am- 
phitheatre three successive times, and tortured in a variety 
of ways ; her tormentors being perhaps exasperated to find 
their efforts thus baffled by the fortitude of a woman, and 
a slave. She prayed tranquilly, while they were breaking 
her body in pieces, and by her exhortations strengthened 
the courage of Ponticus, who was dying near her, under 
the same cruel inflictions. During all this dreadful trial 
of their faith, they manifested extreme humility. When, 
from the scene of their sufferings, they were brought back 
to prison, sympathizing brethren hailed them as martyrs ; 
but they replied : " That name belongs only to those whose 
testimony Christ has sealed by their constancy to the end. 
We are but poor humble confessors ;" and then with tears 
they would beseech the brethren to pray for them, that 
their strength might endure to the last. Some of their 
fellow prisoners recanted, under the influence of terror. 
They always received such with extreme kindness, wept 
over them, and prayed that the Lord would restore those 
dead ones to life. They never manifested any resentment 
toward their persecutors, but often prayed to God to for- 
give them. To all their insulting questions, Blandina 
meekly replied : "lama Christian, and there is no wick- 


edness practised among us." After being scourged, sus- 
pended enclosed in a net, and tossed by a wild bull, she 
was at last released by the stroke of a sword. The bodies 
of these two martyrs, after being exposed unburied for a 
time, were at last thrown into the river, with the remark : 
" We will see whether they will rise from the dead, as they 
expected ; whether their God can deliver them out of our 

An illustrious Roman matron, named Felicitas, educated 
seven sons in the Christian faith. Her excellent character, 
and the exemplary conduct of her family, exerted great 
influence, and caused the conversion of many. This, of 
course, exasperated the enemies of Christianity, and her 
wealth rendered her more likely to be accused by those 
who were desirous of sharing the spoils. When she was 
brought before the tribunal, the prefect of the city mildly 
and respectfully exhorted her to sacrifice to the gods of her 
country, and thus avert the impending danger. When she 
stedfastly refused, he said: "If thou hast no regard for 
thyself, at least have compassion on thy sons, and induce 
them to yield to the law." She replied: "My sons know 
how to choose between everlasting death and everlasting 
life." The prefect called them, one after another, and com- 
manded them to deny Christ, on pain of death. But their 
mother said : " My sons, be strong in heart, and look up to 
heaven, where Christ and all his saints await your coming. 
Defy this tyrant boldly, and the King of Glory will reward 
you greatly." The enraged magistrate ordered the execu- 
tioner to strike her on the mouth ; but she still continued 
to exhort her sons to remain firm. They were tortured in 
various ways, before her eyes ; and at last one was scourged 
to death, another killed with clubs, another thrown from a 
precipice, and the others beheaded. Their heroic mother 
comforted and encouraged them to the last; and when they 
were all dead, she blessed God, who had given her seven 
sons worthy to be saints in heaven. She suffered the pro- 
longed cruelty of four months' imprisonment; but her spirit 
did not yield, even under that slow, dull martyrdom. She 


steadily rejected all offers to procure release by renouncing 
her faith ; saying she asked for no other mercy but per* 
mission to follow her murdered children. She was finally 

The glory of martyrdom was so coveted, that bishops 
were sometimes obliged to check the zeal of their people ; 
so eager were they to be accused and brought before the 
tribunals. A governor of Palestine offered some Christians 
the choice to jump into a deep furnace of lime and fire, or 
to burn a sprig of the frankincense which was heaped up 
round it. Three hundred men jumped into the flames, 
without a moment's hesitation. In some instances, in- 
fluential men, who had escaped proscription, came forward 
boldly to plead for their Christian brethren, representing 
them as blameless men and good citizens ; and they suf- 
fered martyrdom themselves for their courageous humanity. 
Wives wept over husbands, who manifested any weakness 
in the hour of trial, and mothers called out to their children, 
on the way to execution : "Be stedfast, my son ! keep the 
living God in thy heart I To-day, thy life is not taken 
from thee, but transfigured to a better." 

These scenes excited the wonder of Greeks and Eomans ; 
for there was nothing in their religion to render earth so 
worthless to the soul, in view of the opening heaven. The 
stoic writer Arrian inquires: "Whether by insight of 
reason into the laws which govern the universe, it might 
not be possible to acquire the same intrepidity in view of 
death, which the Galileans attain to by mad fanaticism and 

In the first ages, those who quietly avoided martyrdom, 
as long as they could do so, without denying their princi- 
ples, were thought to act in obedience to Christ, who had 
said to his disciples: "When men persecute you in one 
city, flee unto another." Polycarp followed this injunc- 
tion, and was commended for it. Clement of Alexandria 
pronounced it to be a kind of suicide not to flee from the 
malice of powerful enemies, if opportunity offered. But 
the stern Tertullian declared that those words of Chris* 


were addressed to the Apostles only ; that they were appli- 
cable to their situation, but not to succeeding times. He 
said : " It is base in private Christians to fly ; much more 
so in bishops and pastors. A good shepherd will lay down 
his life for his flock ; but a bad one flies at the sight of the 
wolf, and leaves his flock to be torn in pieces. It is an 
affront to Grod to redeem by money those whom Christ has 
redeemed by his blood ; to make private bargains with in- 
formers, soldiers, and magistrates, for the life of a Christian, 
as if he were, a thief." This view of the subject gained 
ground, until it came to be considered extremely disgrace- 
ful to evade martyrdom, and multitudes rushed upon it 
needlessly with frantic zeal. 

Every force, earthly and spiritual, combined to nerve the 
souls of Christians to an extraordinary degree of courage. 
The faith in immediate transition from suffering to Paradise 
was very strong. Those who endured martyrdom were 
believed to take the highest rank in Christ's kingdom, both 
on earth and in heaven, and to be powerful intercessors 
with him for the souls of others. Cyprian says: "Who 
would not strive, with all his might, to arrive at so great a 
glory ? to be a friend of God, to enter into present joy with 
Christ, and after earthly torments to receive heavenly re- 
wards ? If it be glorious for worldly soldiers to return to 
their country, after conquering an enemy, how much greater 
glory is it, after having vanquished the Devil, to return 
into Paradise, whence Adam was expelled, and there to 
erect trophies over the very enemy who expelled him ? to 
accompany Grod, when he comes to take vengeance on his 
enemies ; to be placed at his side when he sits in judg- 
ment ; to be made co-heirs with Christ, and equal with the 
angels ; and, together with the patriarchs, prophets, and 
apostles, to rejoice in the possession of an heavenly king- 

On the contrary, those whom timidity induced to sacri- 
fice to the gods feared to incur both present and future 
danger. There were many stories extant of those who 
were struck dumb the moment they had denied Christ, or 
Vol. II.— 22* 


had died of violent convulsions after eating of the food 
offered in sacrifice. Delinquents, who had been induced 
to do these things secretly, were afraid to conceal it from 
their bishop. For if they dared to partake of the Lord's 
Supper with the church, without having confessed, done 
penance, and received absolution, they feared the bread 
and wine would turn to poison in their stomachs, and 
either kill them instantly, or subject them to dreadful dis- 
eases. If they ventured to taste the consecrated bread 
privately, at home, they dreaded similar results. And if 
they neglected to partake of it, they supposed they rendered 
themselves liable to the infestation of Evil Spirits. Even 
if they escaped signal punishments in this life, they were 
oppressed with the idea that they had consigned their souls 
to everlasting torments in the world to come. Human 
minds are generally strongly influenced by the public 
opinion of their sect; and the universal voice of the 
Christian churches required of their members complete 
separation from polytheistic worship, and unhesitating 
readiness for martyrdom. Those converts who accom- 
panied unbelieving relatives or friends to the temples, on 
the occasion of any of the great popular Festivals, were 
not allowed to partake of the Lord's Supper for a long 
time afterward, even if they could prove that they had 
neither tasted or touched anything offered to idols ; and to 
die without having recently received the consecrated bread 
and wine was deemed highly dangerous. Those whom the 
dread of torture induced to sacrifice, generally did it with 
pale, averted faces, and trembling hands, as if conscious of 
saving their bodies at the expense of the eternal welfare 
of their souls. Some of them afterward died of remorse, 
and anxiety of mind. Those who lived, crept about dis- 
honoured, having lost caste with both the old and the new 
religion. The tender-hearted among Christians mourned 
over such apostates as if they had died disgracefully, and the 
more rigid avoided them with pious horror. The memory 
of martyrs, on the contrary, was almost deified. The an- 
niversaries of their death were observed with the utmost 


solemnity ; their names were mentioned with the greatest 
reverence ; the garments they had worn, and the articles 
they had touched, were not only preserved with affectionate 
veneration, but were supposed to be invested with miracu- 
lous power to cure diseases, and guard from evil. Those 
who were imprisoned and tortured, and afterward released, 
without making concessions to their tormentors, were 
honoured as Confessors of the Faith, who had suffered in 
its defence, though not unto death. They took rank next 
to the Martyrs, both in this world and the next. People 
of all ranks, especially devout women, crowded round them 
to kiss their fetters, and the wounds they had received. A 
blessing from their lips was courted as an honour and a 
safeguard ; their persons were deemed holy ; their advice 
was consulted on all important occasions, and their opinions 
received with the utmost deference. Under these circum- 
stances, it is not surprising that so many rushed upon 
martyrdom ; nor is it singular that some, who were vain 
by nature, became exceedingly puffed up with spiritual 
pride, and others were tempted to make licentious use of 
their great power. 

Though Christians had suffered so terribly under Marcus 
Aurelius, who was virtuous, and generally just, they were 
protected by Commodus, his base and cruel successor, be- 
cause Marcia, his favourite mistress, was, for some unex- 
plained reason, kindly disposed toward them. 

Septimius Severus, who began to reign one hundred and 
ninety -four years after our era, took into favour a Christian, 
who had been so fortunate as to cure him of some disease 
by anointing him with oil. This predilection led to be- 
stowing several offices of his household upon Christians. 
He even employed them to nurse and instruct his young 
son. The governors of provinces, taking their tone from 
the Sovereign, generally tried to avoid carrying the exist- 
ing laws against Christians into effect, when they were de- 
nounced for no other crime than rejection of the popular 
deities. They themselves suggested various means of eva- 
sion, and often gave timely warning of danger. In some 


provinces, the churches paid tribute to the magistrates, 
during the Saturnalia, and thereby secured their favour. 
Tertullian, and many other zealous Christians, strongly 
disapproved of this concession, and considered it peculiarly 
disgraceful, because gamblers, tavern-keepers, and the ex- 
hibitors of shows, obtained licenses by paying tribute at 
the same Festival. 

In the latter part of the reign of Septimius Severus, the 
governors of some provinces, particularly in Africa, in- 
fluenced by local causes, persecuted the Christians by 
authority of former edicts, which remained unrepealed. 
Tertullian, of Carthage, stood forth as the apologist of 
Christianity, in this emergency. The bold tone he assumed 
not only indicated the fiery temperament of the man, bat 
the increasing strength of the new religion. He speaks 
with the utmost contempt of the gods of Rome, calls them 
Evil Demons, and announces the determination of Christians 
to destroy their worship utterly. He warns the magistrates 
to be careful how they offend the majesty of the Christian 
God, and dwells thus exulting upon the rapid increase of 
proselytes : " We are but of yesterday, and we have already 
filled your cities, your islands, and your armies. We have 
penetrated into your senate, your palaces, and your courts 
of justice. We have left you only your temples free from 
our presence. If your threats are fulfilled, what will you 
do with so many men and women, of all ages and con- 
ditions, as will freely offer themselves? In that multitude, 
every man will find his kindred, his intimate friends, his 
equals in rank. What is Carthage itself likely to suffer, 
if thus decimated?" 

It was not far from this period, that one of the most in- 
teresting martyrdoms on record occurred in Africa ; prob- 
ably in Carthage. Five young converts were arrested, 
and among them a married woman, of honourable family, 
named Yivia Perpetua. She was about twenty -two years 
old, and a few months previous had given birth to an in- 
fant. Her mother was a Christian, and her two brothers 
were candidates for baptism. Her father was the only one 


of the family who remained unconverted. The story is 
told in the Acts of the Martyrs, and is said to have been 
written by herself. She says : " When we were in the hands 
of the persecutors, my father, in his tender affection, per- 
severed in efforts to cast me down from the faith. I said : 
'Is not this a pitcher, and can we call it by any other 
name?' "When he replied: 'Certainly not,' I answered: 
' Neither can I call myself by any other name than that of 
a Christian.' My father looked as if he could have plucked 
my eyes out ; but he only harassed me, and departed, per- 
suaded by the arguments of the Devil. Then, after being 
a few days without seeing him, I was enabled to give 
thanks to God, and his absence was tempered to my spirit. 
After a few days, we were baptized, and the waters seemed 
to give power of endurance to my body. The Spirit 
bade me pray for nothing at my baptism, but patience. 
Again a few days, and we were cast into prison. I was 
terrified ; for I had never before seen such total darkness. 
dreadful day ! the excessive heat, occasioned by a mul- 
titude of prisoners crowded together, the rough treatment 
we received from the soldiers, and anxiety for my babe, 
made me miserable. But two of our deacons, by the pay- 
ment of money, obtained our removal, for some hours of 
the day, to a more open part of the prison. Each of the 
captives then pursued his usual occupation ; but I sat and 
suckled my infant, who was wasting away with hunger. 
In my anxiety, I addressed and consoled my mother, and 
commended my child to my brother ; and I began to pine 
away, at seeing them pining away on my account. For 
many days I suffered this anxiety, and accustomed my babe 
to remain in the prison with me ; and immediately I recov- 
ered my strength, and was relieved from my toil and trou- 
ble about my infant, and the prison became to me like a 
palace. I was happier there than I should have been any- 
where else. My brother said to me: 'Perpetua, you are so 
exalted, that you may pray for a vision, and it will be 
shown to you whether our doom is martyrdom, or re* 
lease.' " 


Accordingly, a vision was given to her excited mind. 
Supernatural gifts were supposed to be imparted to those 
who partook of the Lord's Supper, and the account she 
gives shows the importance which she reverently attached 
to that institution. It likewise indicates that she belonged 
to a sect of the Montanists, who were accustomed to receive 
morsels of cheese at the Communion, and to drink wine 
from cups ornamented with pictures of the Grood Shepherd. 
In her vision, she saw a golden ladder that ascended up 
into heaven. Swords and lances were around it, and a 
great dragon lay at the foot, to prevent those that would 
ascend. But she was beckoned upward by a martyr, who 
controlled the dragon, in the name of Christ. She ascended, 
and found herself in a spacious garden, where a shepherd 
with white hair was milking his sheep. She says: "He 
welcomed me, and offered me a morsel of cheese. I re- 
ceived it with folded hands, and ate it ; and all the saints 
around exclaimed, Amen ! At the sound, I awoke, with 
the sweet taste in my mouth. I related it to my brother, 
and we knew that our martyrdom was at hand, and we 
began to have no hope in this world." "After a few days, 
there was a rumour that we were to be heard. And my 
father came from the city, wasted away with anxiety. He 
said : ' 0, my daughter, have compassion on the gray hairs 
of thy father, if he is worthy of the name of father. If I 
have brought thee up to the flower of thine age, if I have 
preferred thee to all thy brothers, do not expose me to this 
disgrace. Look on thy mother, thy brother, and thine 
aunt. Look on thy babe, who, if thou diest, cannot long 
survive. Let that lofty spirit give way, lest thou plunge 
us all into ruin. For, if thou diest thus, not one of us 
will ever again have courage to speak a free word.' Thus 
spake my father, weeping and kissing my hands in his 
fondness, and throwing himself at my feet. And I was 
grieved for the gray hairs of my father, because he alone, 
of all our family, did not rejoice in my martyrdom. I 
consoled him, saying : 'What shall happen when I come 
before the tribunal depends on the will of God. We stand, 


not by our own strength, but only by the power of God.' 
And he went away sorrowing." 

When they were carried before the tribunal, she says : 
"We were placed at the bar. The rest were interrogated, 
and made their confession. When it came to my turn, my 
father instantly appeared with my child, and drew me 
down the step, and said in a beseeching tone : ' Take pity 
on thy babe !' And the magistrate, who had the power of 
life and death, said : 'Have compassion on the gray hairs 
of thy father, and on thy helpless infant. Consent to offer 
sacrifice for the welfare of the emperor.' I answered : 
' That I cannot do.' 'Art thou a Christian ?' said he. I 
replied : ' I am a Christian.' And while my father stood 
there to persuade me, the magistrate ordered him to be 
thrust down and beaten with rods. And I was as much 
grieved for my old father, as if I had been scourged myself. 
Then sentence was passed on us all, and we were con- 
demned to the wild beasts ; and we went back in cheerful- 
ness to the prison. And because I was accustomed to keep 
my infant with me to suckle it, I sent the deacon to seek it 
from my father ; but he would not send it. By the will of 
God, the child no longer desired the breast, and I suffered 
no uneasiness lest at such a time I should be afflicted by 
the sufferings of my child, or by pains in my breasts." 

In the interval between her sentence and execution, she 
was in a very exalted state, and had many visions. Her 
mind being troubled about a little brother, who died with- 
out being baptized, she saw him in a very dark place, 
where there was a pool of water, which he could not reach, 
on account of his small stature. But the pool rose up and 
touched him, and he drank of the water, and ran away to 
play. She says : " Then I awoke, and I knew that he was 
translated from the place of punishment." 

The keeper, impressed by the constancy and faith of his 
prisoners, allowed many of the Christian brethren to visit 
and console them. She says : "As the day of the Games 
approached, my father entered, worn out with affliction, 
and began to pluck his beard, and to throw himself down 


with his face upon the ground, and to wish that he could 
die, and to speak words that might have moved any liv- 
ing creature; and I was grieved for the sorrows of his 
old age." 

One of her sister martyrs, named Felicitas, gave birth to 
a daughter in prison. Some of her companions, seeing her 
sufferings, said : "If you cannot bear these pains, how will 
you endure exposure to the wild beasts?" She replied: 
" JSTow I bear my own sufferings ; but then there will be 
one within me, who will bear them for me, because I suffer 
for his sake." 

It was an ancient Carthagenian custom, in the time of 
human sacrifices, to dress the victims in priestly garments. 
This practice still continued ; and it was proposed, in the 
present case, that the men should be dressed as priests of 
Saturn, and the women as priestesses of Ceres. But the 
prisoners resisted, saying : " We came here of our own will, 
rather than suffer our freedom to be taken from us. We 
have given up our lives that we may not be forced to such 
abominations." The justice of their plea was admitted, and 
the custom was set aside. 

When Perpetua was brought out to die, she came for- 
ward singing Psalms. The men were exposed to leopards 
and bears. The women were placed naked in nets, to be 
gored by furious bulls ; but the populace cried out against 
it, and they were led away to be clad in loose robes. When 
Perpetua was tossed by the wild animal, and her garments 
rent, she was more careful to cover her person modestly, 
than she was mindful of her pains. In the intervals of 
torment, she quietly bound up her hair, thinking a martyr 
ought not to appear with disordered tresses, which were 
considered a token of grief. She raised up the fainting Fe- 
licitas, and consoled her with encouraging words. When 
they were led from the arena to rest awhile, she seemed 
to be in an ecstatic state, unconscious of what had passed. 
AVaking as from a dream, she inquired when she was to 
be exposed to the wild beasts. After a succession of tor- 
tures, her courageous spirit was at length released. With 


her last words, she tenderly exhorted her brother to re- 
main stedfast in the faith. 

This company of martyrs were generally calm and meek ; 
but some of them spoke with defiance to their persecutors. 
To the gazing crowd they said : M Mark well our counten- 
ances, that you may know them again at the day of judg- 
ment." To the magistrate they said : "Thou hast judged 
us, but God will judge thee." 

The heroism manifested by Christians, and the dignity 
with which it invested them, led their persecutors to resort 
to a more humiliating process. Women who could not be 
intimidated by the prospect of death, were carried to evil 
houses, and subjected to insults from the basest of man- 
kind. Tertullian reminded them that they complimented 
the modesty of Christian women, by thus admitting that 
contamination was more dreadful to them than death. 

After the local persecutions, which occurred in the time 
of Septimius Severus, the Christians enjoyed a calm in- 
terval of more than thirty years. Alexander Severus, 
who became emperor two hundred and twenty-two years 
after our era, was a devout man, disposed to reverence 
everything connected with religion. Like most philoso- 
phers of that time, he was prone to extract whatever he 
could find good and true in all systems ; but he did what 
other minds of the same tendency had not done, he ad- 
mitted Christianity into his circle of ethics. He paid the 
customary homage to Boman gods, but likewise held Isis 
and Serapis in great respect. In his private chapel, he had 
statues of Abraham, Orpheus, Apollonius, and Christ, all 
of whom he regarded as wise instructors of mankind. It 
is even said that he wished to add Christ to the list of 
Roman deities. He caused the words: "As ye would that 
men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them," to be 
engraved on the walls of his palace, and on public monu- 
ments. The Chinese Confucius, and the Grecian Pittacus, 
had both expressed the same sentiment, and it could not 
therefore be regarded as the distinguishing feature of 
Christianity ; but the adoption of the motto at that time 
Vol. IT.— 23 m 


indicated a decided friendliness toward the rising religion, 
which was also manifested in many other ways. Dnring 
his reign, Christian bishops were admitted at court in their 
official character. Hitherto, the unpopular sect had held 
their meetings in private houses, or sequestered groves ; but 
now they were allowed to purchase land and erect churches. 
But with the rapid succession of emperors after his time, 
the policy of government was often changing. Decius, 
who came to the throne two hundred and forty-nine years 
after our era, was hostile to Christians, partly because his 
predecessor Philip, whom he had supplanted and slain, 
was favourably disposed toward them. During his brief 
reign, they were universally and rigorously persecuted; 
every expedient of terror and persuasion was tried to in* 
duce them to deny their faith, and if they remained firm, 
the most horrible tortures were inflicted. The persecution 
was aimed principally against bishops, several of whom 
were put to death. That the Christian church was not in 
a state to meet the storm so bravely as in former days is 
acknowledged by Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, in the fol- 
lowing terms: "Because the divinely prescribed regimen 
of life had been disturbed in the long season of peace, a 
divine judgment was sent to re-establish our fallen, I might 
almost say, slumbering faith. Our sins deserve more. 
Forgetting what believers did in time of the apostles, and 
what they should always be doing, Christians have la- 
boured, with insatiable desire, to increase their earthly 
possessions. There has been no true devotion in the 
priests, no sound faith in the deacons ; no benevolence in 
their works, no discipline in their manners. Men have 
stained their hair and beard, and women have destroyed 
the comeliness of their faces with paint. The simple have 
been deluded, and the brethren circumvented by fraud and 
cunning. It has been common to contract marriages with 
unbelievers, and to prostitute the members of Christ to the 
Gentiles ; to swear not only rashly but falsely ; to contemn 
their rulers with insolent pride; to speak against them 
with spite and rancour; and to quarrel among them- 


selves with obstinate hatred. Many of the bishops, who 
ought to have guided others by precept and example, have 
neglected their divine stewardship to engage in the man- 
agement of worldly concerns ; rambling about into other 
people's provinces, seeking out markets for traffic and 
gain; instead of relieving their hungry brethren in the 
church, eager only to heap up money; to seize people's 
lands by treachery and fraud ; and to increase their wealth 
by exorbitant usury." 

To account for such a state of things, it is only necessary 
to remember that the time had come when large numbers 
of the Christians received their faith as an inheritance from 
their forefathers, and zeal was consequently less fervid and 
concentrated than it had been among those who yielded 
old prejudices to the irresistible force of conviction. Sev- 
eral bishops left their flocks, and hid themselves till the 
storm was over. Some said they had received express 
commands from heaven to pursue that course. Many of 
the citizens, especially of the wealthy class, did not wait to 
be accused, but publicly conformed to the established wor- 
ship of their own accord. Some went so far as to deny that 
they had ever been Christians. Avaricious magistrates 
sold certificates testifying that the receivers had duly sacri- 
ficed to the gods ; and some who were afraid of the ven- 
geance of God if they did sacrifice, and of the vengeance 
of the emperor if they did not sacrifice, gladly availed 
themselves of that subterfuge. In other cases, merciful 
magistrates gave the accused timely notice to save them- 
selves by flight, and some of the more moderate and pru- 
dent bishops advised that opportunities thus kindly offered 
should not be lost. The sterner class of minds regarded 
all such expedients with contempt and abhorrence. The 
crisis was all the more terrible because it came suddenly, 
after a long interval of peace and security. No wonder 
that multitudes renounced their faith. But though many 
wavered, there were also many who suffered all the tor- 
tures tyranny could inflict, and remained firm unto death, 
rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer for the 


truth. Some who were imprisoned in Kome more than a 
year, enduring hunger and thirst, the scourge, and the rack, 
wrote to the bishop of Carthage: "What more glorious and 
blessed lot can fall to man, by God's grace, than to confess 
the Lord amid tortures and the fear of death? Pray for 
us, beloved Cyprian, that the Lord may daily confirm and 
strengthen each one of us more and more, with the power 
of his might." 

Decius increased the severity of his measures, and the 
numbers who were driven back to the old worship, at the 
point of the sword, excited hopes of completely extirpating 
the new religion. But his career ended in two years, and 
Christianity was too deeply rooted to be destroyed. 

After his death, there was a brief respite, and many of 
the exiled bishops returned. But unfortunately a pesti- 
lence spread through various parts of the empire, and made 
dreadful ravages. Again the popular outcry arose that the 
Christians had caused this disaster, by their neglect of the 
gods ; and bishops retorted by saying their God had sent 
it as a judgment for their cruel persecution of unoffending 
citizens. An imperial edict was issued commanding all 
Eoman subjects to offer prayers and sacrifices to the gods, 
that the empire might be delivered from this great calamity. 
The multitude who refrained from taking part in the pre- 
scribed solemnities proved that Christians were still very 
numerous. Persecution raged again. Bishops who cou- 
rageously remained with their churches suffered martyr- 
dom. Women and children were dragged to the altars, by 
husbands and relatives, and compelled to sacrifice, pale and 
shuddering, expecting to drop down dead, or be stricken 
with some dreadful disease, or to suffer the torments of 
eternal fire, for such an idolatrous act. Sometimes a hus- 
band held his wife's hand, and forced it to drop franKin- 
cense on the altar. One woman freed herself from partici- 
pation in the deed, by exclaiming : " It was not I who did 
it. You did it ;" and she received the mild punishment of 
banishment, when she had reason to expect death. 

With the pestilence, the persecution subsided, and there 


were four or five years of tranquillity. But in the year 
two hundred and fifty-seven, the emperor Valerian was in- 
duced to make fresh efforts to arrest the progress of Chris- 
tianity, lest the old religion of the state should perish. He 
began by banishing the bishops and clergy, thinking the 
people would be easily reclaimed, if they could be sepa- 
rated from their teachers. Finding they still continued to 
meet for worship, he passed a law forbidding Christians to 
assemble in any place whatsoever. This edict was contin- 
ually evaded, and constant communication by letters was 
kept up between the churches and their exiled bishops. 
New churches sprang up round them, in their places of 
banishment, and increased the spread of Christianity. The 
emperor, finding himself thus frustrated, resorted to more 
severe measures. Bishops and clergy, who were detected 
in communication with their people, were put to death 
by the sword. Christians of the higher classes, who met 
at the tombs of martyrs, or elsewhere for religious worship, 
forfeited their rank and property. The common people, 
men, women, and children, were imprisoned and scourged, 
sold into slavery, or sent to labour in the mines. This state 
of things continued two years ; but when Valerian's son 
ascended the throne, he granted the Christians free exer- 
cise of their religion, and restored their lands and churches. 

As soon as persecution abated, the greater part of those 
who had been terrified into a denial of their faith flocked 
back to the churches and implored forgiveness. After d ue 
examination, if there was reason to trust their sincerity, 
they were again received into communion, after passing 
through some probationary discipline. In many cases, 
those who had been weak during one season of peril proved 
strong in the next. 

The arrogance of many of the confessors proved a source 
of great trouble. Elated by the deference with which all 
classes of Christians regarded them, many of them were 
puffed up with spiritual pride to such a degree that they 
undertook to grant absolution for misconduct, and to give 
certificates of church fellowship without examination ; as 
Vol. II.— 23* 


if it required their word only to restore the fallen. Cyp« 
rian complains that thousands of such certificates were 
issued daily. He altogether denied the validity of such 
absolution, saying : " The Lord alone can bestow forgive- 
ness of the sins committed against him. The servant may 
not forgive a crime committed against his master." But 
delinquents who had been absolved by the confessors often 
refused to be examined, and were impatient of the least de- 
lay in being restored to communion wifh their churches. 

These men, who had acquired half the glory of martyr- 
dom, were sometimes unworthy of their high spiritual rank. 
Cyprian says : " The greater part of them are made better 
by the honour of their confession, and preserve their glory by 
a quiet, inoffensive manner. But some disgrace the name 
of confessors, by their evil conversation, being drunken, la- 
scivious, and swollen with pride ; by promiscuous lewdness 
defiling their bodies, the temples of God, sanctified by their 
confession. I am grieved when I hear how many of them 
run about wickedly and insolently, sowing discord, and 
polluting the members of Christ." 

When Diocletian came to the throne, two hundred and 
eighty-four years after our era, Christianity had long been 
acknowledged as one of the legally existing corporations 
of the empire. Christians held many responsible offices in 
the provinces, the army, and even in the imperial house- 
hold. Even local and transient persecutions had been rare 
for a long time, and churches had so multiplied, that there 
were forty in the single city of Home. The empress and 
her daughter were said to be secretly inclined toward the 
new doctrines. The emperor was generally beloved for his 
amiable disposition ; and every thing seemed to promise 
continued tranquillity. But Galerius, who had married 
the daughter of Diocletian, and was associated with him in 
the government, was bitterly opposed to the new religion. 
His mother was a zealous votary of Cybele, and was exas- 
perated against all who refused to attend her numerous 
festivals in honour of that ancient goddess. Galerius omit- 
ted no opportunity to prejudice the emperor's mind; but 


for some time lie failed to produce any very decided effect. 
There were at that time a multitude of Christians in the 
army ; and so long as they did their duty as soldiers, their 
neglect of the customary worship appears to have been 
overlooked, either from policy, or from military indiffer- 
ence to such matters. Every Christian would have re- 
sisted swearing by the Genius of the emperor, because by 
his Grenius was meant his tutelary deity, which we should 
call guardian angel. The church likewise required all its 
members, on pain of excommunication, not to sacrifice to 
the gods, not to invoke them for success on the approach of 
battle, or to do homage to the standards, which bore their 
images, or symbols. But these things seem to have con- 
stituted the whole of Christian objections to military ser- 
vice. Those who had conscientious scruples concerning 
war itself appear to have been rare exceptions. One such 
is recorded as having occurred in the year two hundred 
and ninety-five. A young JSTumidian, twenty-one years 
of age, named Maximilianus, was required to serve in the 
army. He replied : " It is wrong, and I cannot do it. I 
am a Christian." The proconsul, disregarding this remark, 
offered him the badge, saying: "Take it, and be a soldier." 
He replied: "I will take no such badge. I already wear 
the badge of Christ, my Grod." The magistrate answered : 
" Then I shall soon send you to your Christ." " Would 
you but do that," rejoined the youth, "you would bestow 
on me the highest honour." When they tried to fasten the 
military badge upon him, he thrust it aside, saying: "I 
cannot wear the livery of this world, after having received 
the saving token of my Lord Jesus Christ, whom you know 
not, but who has suffered for our salvation." His father 
would not try to persuade him to do anything contrary to 
the dictates of his conscience ; but the magistrate reasoned 
with him, and explained that he could be a soldier, and 
still remain a Christian ; that there were many of that faith 
in the army everywhere. But the young man refused to 
be guided by their example. He was accordingly con- 
demned to death ; not on the charge of being a Christian, 


but for refusing to perform military service. He received 
the sentence with thanks to God ; and when he was led 
away to execution, he said to the Christians round him : 
" Dearest brethren, strive with all your power to attain to 
the vision of the Lord, that he may bestow on you also 
such a crown." With a cheerful countenance, he asked his 
father to give the military dress, intended for himself, to 
the soldier who was to behead him. And his father re- 
turned home joyfully, blessing God for having bestowed 
upon him such a pious son. 

Galerius, in common with all devotees of the old religion, 
believed that the sign of the Cross was hateful to the gods, 
and prevented them from manifesting themselves, when sa- 
crifices were offered and their aid invoked. The Christian 
Fathers record that the augurs complained they could not 
receive any favourable omens, when they performed their 
customary rites, if a person was present with a Cross on his 
forehead. These complaints of priests concerning profane 
persons present at the sacred rites, often excited to fury 
those emperors who placed great reliance on the auspices. 
This had always been one of the prominent causes of per- 
secution ; and it acted powerfully on the mind of Galerius, 
who had been educated to have undoubting faith in sacri- 
flees and auguries. In order to banish the unlucky sign 
of the Cross from his army, he ordained that every soldier 
should be required to sacrifice to the gocls. Whereupon, 
many officers resigned their commissions, and many soldiers 
quitted the service. But few of these were sentenced to 
death, and those on the charge of treasonable expressions. 
During the celebration of some great festival, there was a 
banquet for the army, accompanied with the usual sacrifices 
and libations. A centurion, named Marcellus, rose up from 
the table, and throwing down his sword and official belt, 
said aloud : " From this moment, I cease to serve the 
emperor as a soldier. I despise the worship of your deaf 
and dumb gods, idols of wood or stone. Since the service 
involves the necessity of sacrificing to them, and to the 
emperor, I throw down my staff and belt. I will be a 


soldier no longer." He was beheaded on the charge of re- 
fusing to perform military service, and speaking irreve- 
rently of the gods. 

After the edict concerning the army, it was several years 
before Diocletian could be induced to proceed any further 
in persecution. To all propositions of that kind, he replied 
that Christianity was now a lawfully existing institution 
in all parts of the empire, and that its destruction would 
involve a vast amount of bloodshed. But he had it much 
at heart to restore the declining greatness of the Roman 
empire, and his son-in-law was always urging upon him 
that this could be done only by propitiating the gods with 
a strict observance of all the ancient rites. At last, in the 
year three hundred and three, when Galerius visited Dio- 
cletian in his palace at Nicomedia, he succeeded in in- 
ducing him to pass severe laws against the Christians. 
The spirit in which he did it, is indicated by the following 
passage in one of his laws : " The immortal gods have, by 
their providence, arranged and established what is right. 
No new religion must presume to censure the old ; since it 
is the greatest of crimes to overturn what has been estab- 
lished by our ancestors, and what has supremacy in the 

As Yalerian had hoped to exterminate Christianity by 
separating the people from their bishops, Diocletian thought 
to accomplish it by universal destruction of their Sacred 
"Writings. On the morning of a great Festival, called 
Terminalia, a magnificent Christian church in Nicomedia 
was burst open, the copies of the Scriptures found in it 
were burned, everything of value was pillaged, and the 
building destroyed. This was followed by an edict for- 
bidding Christians throughout the empire to hold meetings 
for worship. Orders were issued for a general demolition 
of churches, and the burning of all Sacred Writings. 
Christians who held honourable offices were required to 
renounce their faith, or be degraded ; people of all ranks 
might be subjected to torture, according to the discretion 
of magistrates ; the common classes of citizens, who refused 


to sacrifice, were sold, or sent to labour in the mines. Slaves 
who remained Christians were forever deprived of the hope 
of freedom. 

At this terrible crisis, some voluntarily brought forth 
their Scriptures to be burned in the market-place. These 
w r ere ever after called by zealous Christians, Traditores, 
which signifies traitors. Others, especially in fiery -hearted 
Africa, defied the magistrates to do their worst ; proclaimed 
themselves Christians without being asked, and boldly an- 
nounced that they had copies of the Bible, but would not sur- 
render them. Others pursued a quiet middle course. They 
concealed their Sacred Writings, allowed the writings of her- 
etical sects to be taken and burned in their stead, and said 
nothing, until they were summoned to speak. Some ma- 
gistrates were rigorous and violent in their measures ; 
others, more humane, tried to execute the imperial decrees 
with as much lenity as possible ; even going so far as to 
suggest evasions; inquiring of those who had refused to 
give up their Sacred Scriptures : " Cannot you give us 
some useless writings?" 

In a town of ISTumidia a band of Christians were seized 
in a private house, where they had assembled to listen to 
the Scriptures and partake of the Lord's Supper. They 
were carried to Carthage for trial, singing hymns all the 
way. Among them was a young maiden and a boy. The 
fiercest tortures were tried upon them in vain. Even the 
boy, when threatened, persisted in saying: "Do to me 
what you please, I am a Christian." In the midst of their 
bodily agonies, they called out: "You are wrong, O un- 
happy men ! You are lacerating the innocent." " Help, 
O Christ ! Preserve my soul, that it fall not into shame. 
0, give me strength to endure!" "0 Lord, deliver thy 
servants out of the prison of this world, into glory ! The 
imperishable kingdom appears ! I thank the God of the 
kingdom I" The man in whose house the meeting was 
held, being told that he ought to have obeyed the emperor, 
replied, under the rack : " I could not do otherwise than 
receive my brethren. God is greater than the emperor." 


Being asked whether he had any Sacred "Writings, he an- 
swered : " Such I have ; but they are in my heart." 

It happened, unfortunately, that the imperial palace at 
Nicomedia took fire soon after the persecution began. The 
cause of it was never ascertained ; but it was immediately 
imputed to the Christians, and increased the hostility to- 
ward them. Their habitual expressions were again misun- 
derstood. There were at that time four rulers in the Eoman 
empire; and because Christians were accustomed to speak 
of one king, whose will ought to be obeyed, above all other 
authority, they were supposed to be plotting insurrection 
against the government. Jerusalem being always described 
as the seat of Christ's kingdom on earth, a rumour went 
abroad that the Christians had founded a great city in the 
East, where they were to assemble, and commence treason- 
able operations. It being naturally supposed that the 
clergy were the leaders, an order was issued to chain and 
imprison them all. The most cruel tortures were inflicted 
to extort confessions. The prisons were crowded, and 
multitudes were burned, drowned, and beheaded. 

Amid so many painful scenes, it is pleasant to find it 
recorded by Athanasius that many adherents of the old 
worship did their utmost to protect the persecuted. At 
Alexandria many of them concealed the accused in their 
houses, and chose rather to sacrifice their own property and 
liberty, than to betray the fugitives who had taken refuge 
with them. 

This fierce persecution, while it terrified many into sub- 
mission or evasion, kindled the zeal of others to such a fiery 
height, that they needlessly provoked their fate. Eusebius 
tells of a young man in the same house with him at Cassarea, 
who slipped out unobserved, when the public crier sum- 
moned all men to sacrifice to the gods. He rushed to the 
appointed place, and just as the prefect of the city was 
about to sacrifice, he grasped his hand so hard, that he was 
compelled to let fall the offering he held. Whereupon, the 
soldiers seized him with fury, and after torturing him in 
many ways, threw him half dead into the river. 


According to Augustine, some who were indebted to the 
public treasury, or whose reputation had been injured by 
misconduct, eagerly sought martyrdom, either as a release 
from life, or as an expiation of their sins, or because they 
were greedy of the gifts liberally bestowed by Christian 
brethren upon those who were in prison, or because they 
hoped that the glory of the martyr's crown would so dazzle 
the eyes of men, that they would take no notice of their 

At last, the storm subsided. Diocletian retired from the 
government, and Galerius his successor was smitten with a 
most loathsome and painful disease, in the year three hun- 
dred and eleven. He consulted the oracles in vain. The 
medicine prescribed at the temple of Apollo increased his 
agony. Perhaps this severe visitation softened his hard 
nature ; or it might be that the same character of mind, 
which rendered him so zealous to propitiate the favour of 
old Deities, induced him to fear the Christian's God, lest 
he should prove, as they said he was, more powerful than 
all other gods. Whatever may have been his motive, he 
published, a few days before his death, an edict permitting 
the free exercise of the Christian religion. He acknow- 
ledged the failure of all his efforts to suppress it, and added: 
" Let them now, therefore, after experiencing this proof of 
our indulgence, pray to their God for our prosperity, for 
the well being of the state, and for their own ; that the 
state may continue to be well maintained, and they them- 
selves may be enabled to live quietly in their own homes." 

Maximinus, his nephew and successor, who became 
master of the Eastern portion of the empire, in the year 
three hundred and eleven, was bitterly opposed to Christi- 
anity. But, at the commencement of his reign, he an- 
nounced his determination not to molest the Christians, 
"inasmuch as it would involve so many in danger. It 
having been made evident, by the experience of so long a 
period, that they could in no way be induced to desist from 
their own wilful determination." Crowds of Christians who 
had been banished, or sent to labour in the mines, returned 


joyfully to their homes, and the highways resounded with 
their psalms of thanksgiving. Churches were rapidly re- 
built, and the Festivals were crowded. But they remained 
undisturbed scarcely half a year. The multitudes who at- 
tended the new worship, and the enthusiastic throngs that 
gathered at the tombs of martyrs, on the anniversaries 
of their death, began to excite jealousy and alarm. In 
several cities, adherents of the old worship petitioned the 
emperor that no enemy of the gods might be permitted to 
practise their impious rites within their walls. Maximinus, 
though strongly attached to the old forms, delayed granting 
such petitions. Actuated either by justice or policy, he 
told the deputies that he wished to leave every man free 
to follow his own convictions. But such requests became 
more numerous; and at last he was informed that the 
statue of Jupiter, at Antioch, had spoken aloud, and com- 
manded that his enemies should be expelled from the city 
and territory. Not daring to resist this mandate, he re- 
linquished the effort to be impartial, and said : "If they 
persist in their accursed folly, let them be banished, as you 
demand." In the same proclamation, he described the 
pestilence, and other calamities, which afflicted the empire 
under previous reigns, and added : " These things hap- 
pened in consequence of the pernicious error of those reck- 
less men, when it had taken possession of their souls, and 
covered almost the whole world with disgrace." Docu- 
ments, called Trials before Pilate, representing Jesus as a 
malefactor, were diligently distributed in the schools of 
city and country, that the minds of young people might be 
seasonably impressed. Much zeal was manifested to keep 
up the splendour of the temples, and of the old Festivals ; 
and all such exertions were approved and liberally re- 
warded by the emperor. But notwithstanding all this 
homage to the gods, the harvests failed, and famine came 
on. The Christians in Nicomedia collected the starving 
people and distributed bread ; whereupon, the impressible 
populace began to praise the Christians' Grod, and to pro- 
nounce them the only truly pious men. However, in 
Vol. 1J. — 24 


various parts of the East, individuals conspicuous for zeal, 
or influence, incurred the animosity of magistrates, and 
suffered martyrdom. But this was the last persecution, 
outside of their own churches, to which the Christians 
were subjected. 

Having thus rapidly traced the course of the govern- 
ment toward Christianity, I will now glance backward, and 
introduce a number of individuals and sects, who, during 
the times I have described, w°re intimately connected with 
its history. 


Clement. — Those supposed to be personally acquainted 
with the Apostles, have received the title of Apostolic 
Fathers. Clement, an educated man, said to have de- 
scended from a noble family in Rome, is classed among 
them, because he is supposed to be the one to whom Paul 
alluded, when he spoke of " Clement and other fellow 
labourers, whose names are in the Book of Life ;" also, be- 
cause there was a tradition that Peter himself ordained him 
bishop of Pome. He wrote two Epistles to the church at 
Corinth, fragments of which remain. 

Apollinaris. — Apollinaris, the first bishop of Ravenna, 
is said, in the ancient traditions of the church, to have ac- 
companied the apostle Peter from Antioch, and to have 
been for some time his companion and assistant at Rome. 
But, after a while, Peter, having laid his hands on him, and 
thereby communicated the gifts of the Holy Grhost, sent him 
to preach on the eastern coast of Italy. Wherever he went, 
he silenced the oracles in the Roman temples, and caused 
the deceiving Spirits that dwelt in the statues to go out of 
them. His preaching and his miracles soon gathered round 
him a large congregation in Ravenna. It is related that 
he once saw a poor boy, who was born blind, washing his 
rags outside of the city ; and being moved with compassion, 
he made the sign of the cross on his eyes, whereupon he 
instantly received his sight. The father of the boy was a 


Eoman soldier ; and he, with all his family, was converted 
by the miracle. A Eoman gentleman, who had been many 
years dumb, tried various means to recover his speech. 
At last, hearing the fame of Apollinaris, he sent for him, 
and was cured instantly. In the same family, he cast out 
a devil that had for some time possessed one of the ser- 
vants. The whole family were thereby converted to the 
religion of Jesus, and five hundred people beside. On 
another occasion, he said ta a patrician lad}^, who was 
grievously ill: "Daughter, arise, in the name of Jesus!" 
She rose up at once, and exclaimed : " The God of Apolli- 
naris is the only true God." More than three hundred 
people were converted by this miracle. His success ex- 
cited the enmity of those who trusted in the old worship : 
they threw him into prison, but he escaped by assistance 
of the jailor, and fled from the city, by the gate which 
leads to Rimini. His enemies pursued him, and having 
overtaken him about three miles from the gate, they beat 
him, and pierced him with many wounds ; so that when 
his disciples found him soon afterward, he died in their 
arms. This happened in the last year of the emperor 
Yespasian, seventy eight years after the birth of Christ. 
Five hundred years afterward, a magnificent church was 
built on the spot where he fell. This ancient building is 
still standing. It bears the name of Apollinaris, and con- 
tains a Mosaic picture of him, in bishop's robes, with his 
hands outstretched over a flock of sheep, intended to re- 
present his congregation. 

Ignatius. — Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, is said to have 
been a disciple of the Apostle John. It is recorded of him 
that his youth was so innocent he could hear the angels 
sing; and afterward, when he became bishop, he intro- 
duced into his church the practice of singing in responses, 
just as he had heard the heavenly choirs. Probably this 
simplicity and guilelessness of character gave rise to the 
tradition that he was one of the little children, whom Jesus 
took in his arms and blessed. The following account of 


his death is from ancient sources, and has been generally 
received ; but learned men suppose it to be a good deal in- 
terpolated. It is said that Trajan visited Antioch, in the 
year one hundred and twelve, and summoned the bishop 
before him. After having reproached him for seducing 
people from their ancient faith, he offered him large re- 
wards, if he would sacrifice to the gods of Home. Ignatius 
replied : " Caesar, should you offer me all the treasures 
of your empire, I would not cease to adore the only true 
and living God." Trajan contemptuously rejoined : " What 
talkest thou of a living God ? Thy God died on the cross ; 
but our gods reign on Olympus." Ignatius answered: 
" Your gods were vicious mortals, and died as such. Your 
Jupiter was buried in Candia; your Yenus lies in the 
island of Paphos; your iEsculapius was shot with an 
arrow ; your Hercules burned himself in a great fire, be- 
cause he could not endure pain. These be your gods, O, 
emperor !" These words kindled the anger of Trajan. He 
exclaimed : " What ! is our religion to be treated as sense- 
less? Are the gods, on whom we rely for assistance against 
our enemies, to be treated with scorn ?" When Ignatius 
would have spoken further, he commanded his mouth to 
be stopped, and ordered him to be conveyed to a dungeon. 
He was afterward sent to Eome, to be exposed to lions in 
the amphitheatre, for the amusement of the populace. He 
exulted exceedingly over this sentence. On his journey, 
he was continually exclaiming: "O that I might come to 
those wild beasts they are preparing for me ! I would in- 
vite them to devour me ; I would encourage them not to 
be afraid to set upon me, as has sometimes been the case. 
I am concerned for nothing, seen or unseen, but to be with 
Christ. Let them rack my limbs, break my bones, bruise 
my whole body, hang me on the cross, burn me with fire, 
throw me into the jaws of furious beasts. I care not for 
all the punishments the devil can invent, so I may but 
enjoy Christ." 

Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, had long been his intimate 
friend. When he passed through that city in chains, the 


bishop, and other Christian friends, eagerly sought an in- 
terview. He affectionately recommended to them the care 
of his church. Poly carp said : " Would to God, I also 
might be found worthy to die for this cause." Ignatius re- 
plied : " Doubt not, my brother, thy time will come ; but, 
for the present, the church hath need of thee." They all 
embraced him and wept ; kissing his hands, his garments, 
and his chains, and rejoicing in his courage. 

In the course of his journey, he is said to have written 
six epistles to churches in Asia Minor, and one to his friend 
Poly carp. In a letter to the Christians at Rome, he beg- 
ged them not to intercede with the emperor in his behalf. 
He says : "I beseech you not to show an unseasonable 
good will toward me. I am willing to die for God. Suf- 
fer me to be food for the wild beasts, by whom I shall 
attain unto him. I am the wheat of God, and must be 
ground by their teeth, that I may become the pure bread 
of Christ." After he arrived in Rome, he spent the time 
previous to his execution in exhorting the brethren to be 
bold in the faith. When led into the amphitheatre to die, 
he thus addressed the assembled crowd: "Men and Ro- 
mans, know that I am not brought here for any crime, but 
for the glory of the God I worship." He had scarcely ut- 
tered these words, when two furious lions seized him, and 
left nothing of his body but a few bones, which were gath- 
ered by his friends and carried back to Antioch to be de- 
posited. On the anniversary of his martyrdom, the church 
assembled at his tomb, and performed religious ceremonies. 

Polycarp. — Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, is said to have 
been of Eastern origin, and sold into slavery when he was 
a little boy. Callisto, a wealthy and charitable lady, one 
of the earliest Christian converts in Smyrna, is said to have 
redeemed him from bondage, in consequence of a dream, 
which greatly impressed her mind. He was educated at 
her expense, and early acquired a character for gravity, 
self-denial, and diligence in his studies. He listened to the 
preaching of the Apostle John, and. is said to have been 
Vol. II.— 24* 


appointed by him to preside over the church in Smyrna. 
He is reputed to have filled the office with great integrity, 
and to have uniformly placed before his people the exam- 
ple of a blameless and holy life. He converted many to 
the Christian faith by his traditions concerning the Apostle 
John. The zeal and learning he displayed in controversies 
with Jews, philosophers, and those deemed heretics, gave 
him great popularity with the Christian Fathers, who speak 
of him as " the most eminent man in all proconsular Asia." 
Being thus distinguished, he of course became an object of 
animosity to those whose feelings and interests were inter- 
twined with the old forms of religion. In the year one 
hundred and sixty-seven, during the persecution under 
Marcus Aurelius, the people clamoured for his death. He 
heard their shouts, and intended quietly to abide the issue ; 
but in compliance with the urgent intreaties of his church, 
he retired to a neighbouring village. His friends, hearing 
that officers had been informed of his place of retreat, re- 
moved him to another village, where he spent his time with 
them praying day and night for all the Christian churches. 
While thus occupied, he saw, in a vision, his pillow all on 
fire, and exclaimed: "I shall certainly be burnt alive!" 
These words were regarded as prophetic. Three days af- 
terward, two slaves who were acquainted with his hiding- 
place, were forced to confess it, by excruciating torture. 
The approach of the officers was seen by his friends, and 
they might have effected his escape. But in answer to 
their persuasions, he merely replied : " The will of God be 
done." He ordered food to be prepared for those who 
came to arrest him, and asked them to allow him time for 
prayer, while they refreshed themselves. He spent two 
hours at his devotions, and so humble and resigned were 
his expressions, so forgiving toward his enemies, so full of 
faith and hope, that the hearts of the officers were touched, 
and they waited patiently till he was ready to accompany 
them. He was placed on a jackass and conducted toward 
the city, through a concourse of people, who were abroad 
that day, on some public occasion. Being met on the way 


by one of the magistrates, he respectfully took the venera- 
ble prisoner into his own carriage, and tried hard to per- 
suade him to consent to sacrifice to the gods. Finding his 
efforts unavailing, he became angry, and turned him out 
of his chariot so rudely that he injured one of his limbs. 
The old man took no notice of the violence, and quietly 
proceeded on his way. 

The news of his arrest spread like wildfire. The am- 
phitheatre was crowded with an excited multitude — a vast 
concourse of Jews, Greeks, and Eomans, eager for his con- 
demnation, and a small band of sorrowing Christians, many 
of whom would gladly have saved the life of their good 
bishop by the sacrifice of their own. When the aged pris- 
oner entered, a loud, clear voice, was heard to say : u Poly- 
carp, be firm !" and his friends believed that it came from 
heaven. The populace shouted with frantic joy. But the 
governor, touched by his venerable and benign appearance, 
tried to induce him to swear by the Genius of the emperor, 
and say: "Away with the godless!" He meant the Chris- 
tians ; but the old man gave another construction to the 
words. Looking mournfully round upon the fierce, un- 
pitying countenances of that vast multitude, which filled 
the benches of the amphitheatre, he raised his eyes to 
heaven, and repeated: "Away with the godless!" The 
governor, encouraged by this apparent concession, said: 
"Swear by the Genius of the emperor, and denounce 
Christ, and I will release thee," The old bishop calmly 
replied: "Eighty and six years have I served Christ, and 
he has done me nothing but good. How can I denounce 
my King and my Saviour ?" Being still urged, he replied : 
"If you would know what I am, I tell you frankly that I 
am a Christian. If you wish to know what are the doc- 
trines of Christianity, appoint an hour and hear me." The 
compassionate governor, who feared the excited populace, 
said : " Do but persuade the people." Poly carp answered : 
"To you I am bound to give an account of myself; for 
our religion teaches us to pay due honour to the powers 
ordained of God, so far as it can be done without prejudice 


to our salvation. But I do not regard those as worthy of 
hearing me defend myself before them." The governor 
reminded him that he was incurring the danger of expo- 
sure to wild beasts. He replied: "It is well for me to be 
speedily released from this miserable life." "When threat- 
ened with being burned, he answered : "I fear not the fire 
which burns for a moment. Thou knowest not of that 
which burns forever and ever." The impatient crowd be- 
gan to shout : " This is the blasphemer, who has taught so 
many not to sacrifice to the gods! Set the lions upon 
him !" When the President of the Games reminded them 
that the combats with wild beasts were over for that day, 
then they cried out that he must be burned. Jews and 
Romans eagerly vied with each other in bringing logs and 
faggots for his funeral pile. During this scene, his coun- 
tenance remained serene and cheerful. When they un- 
robed him, and attempted to fasten him to the stake, he 
put them gently aside, and said : " Let me remain as I am. 
He who enables me to brave the fire, will strengthen me 
to stand at the stake without fastenings, unmoved in the 
midst of its fierceness." 

Before the fire was lighted, he offered the following 
prayer : " O Lord God Almighty, Father of thy beloved 
Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received from 
thee the knowledge of thyself; God of Angels, Powers, 
and of every creature ; of the human race, and of the just 
who live in thy presence ; I thank thee that thou hast gra- 
ciously thought me worthy of this hour, that I may take 
part in the number of thy witnesses, and share the cup of 
thy Christ." 

The flames soon kindled, but a high wind drove them 
on one side, so that they played harmlessly round the old 
man, in the shape of a swelling sail, emitting fragrance as 
they burned. Seeing this, an executioner was sent to run him 
through the body with a sword. So much blood flowed 
from the wound, that it extinguished the flames immedi- 
ately round him. One of the accounts affirms that his soul 
visibly ascended from the pile, in the form of a white dove, 


His death satisfied popular fury for the time, and his 
church had rest from persecution. The governor instituted 
no further search for Christians, and seemed resolved uot 
to know that any existed. The calm heroism and trusting 
piety of the good old man made all the deeper impression, 
because he had not sought death with any vain-glorious 
boasting. His church, writing an account of it to their 
brethren of other churches, say: "He waited to be deliv- 
ered up ; imitating our Lord in this respect, and leaving an 
example for us to follow ; so that we should not look to 
that alone which may conduce to our own salvation, but 
also to that which may be serviceable to our neighbour. 
For this is the nature of true charity, to seek not merely 
our own salvation, but the salvation of all the breth- 

His friends were permitted to bury his remains, and 
they always assembled at his grave on the anniversary of 
his death. When unbelieving neighbours accused them 
of worshipping dead men, they replied : u We took up his 
bones, which are more precious than gold and jewels, and 
laid them in the proper place, (xod will grant that we 
may assemble there in joy and gladness, and celebrate the 
festival of his martyrdom, in memory of departed cham- 
pions, and to prepare those who are still awaiting the strug- 
gle. You do not know that we can never worship any 
other than Christ, who has suffered for all the saved, and 
whom we worship as the Son of God. But the martyrs we 
venerate as. they deserve, on account of their unparalleled 
love to our Lord and King." 

The account of his death was written in an epistle from 
the church in Smyrna to the church in Philadelphia, which 
is still extant, and believed to be authentic. In this nar- 
rative, he is styled " a prophetic teacher, whose every word 
has either been fulfilled, or will be fulfilled." Of his 
writings there remains only one short Epistle to the Phi- 


Irenjeus. — Irenseus, bishop of Lyons, is supposed to 
have been a native of Smyrna, born some time between 
one hundred twenty and forty. His name signifies The 
Peaceable, and is said to have been indicative of his cha- 
racter. This disposition led him to be greatly troubled 
with those who disturbed the unity of the church by dif- 
ferences of opinion. He says : " God will judge those who 
excite divisions ; who for slight and frivolous reasons, rend 7 
and, so far as in them lies, destroy the great and glorious 
body of Christ; straining at a gnat, and swallowing a 
camel. All the good they can do can never compensate 
for the evil of schism." In early youth, he heard Poly- 
carp preach, and always cherished the greatest reverence 
for his memory. In his old age, he declared : " I remember 
what happened then, better than what happens now. 
"What we have heard in childhood grows along with the 
soul, and becomes one with it. I can describe the place in 
which the blessed Polycarp sat and spoke ; his going in 
and out ; his manner of life, and the shape of his person ; 
the discourses he delivered to the congregation ; how he 
told of his intercourse with John, and with the rest, who 
had seen the Lord ; how he reported their sayings, and 
what he had heard from them respecting the Lord, his 
miracles, and his doctrine. These things, by virtue of the 
grace of God imparted to me, I listened to, even then, with 
eagerness, and wrote them down not on paper, but in my 
heart ; and, by the grace of God, I constantly bring them 
up again fresh before my memory." 

Irenasus was the disciple of Papias, who presided over 
the church at Hierapolis. He describes this teacher as 
11 an ancient man, a disciple of John the Apostle, and the 
companion of Polycarp ;" but others of the Fathers sup- 
pose he was a disciple of John the Presbyter, not of the 
Apostle. Papias was a diligent collector of floating tradi- 
tions. He says : " As often as I met any one who had con- 
versed with the ancients, I inquired diligently after their 
sayings and doctrines ; what Andrew, Peter, Philip, John, 
and the rest of the Lord's Apostles used to teach ; for I 


Vv';is persuaded that I could not profit so much by books r 
sis by the voice of living witnesses." 

He made a collection of all these unwritten sayings and 
doings of Christ and his Apostles, from which many of 
the current traditions are supposed to have been derived. 
Irenseus probably received from him many of the stories 
which he has handed down ; though he informs us that he 
was himself acquainted with several who had conversed 
familiarly with the Apostles. He was also a zealous col- 
lector of traditions, which he gathered from all quarters 
with a child-like eagerness and credulity. He was accus- 
tomed to boast that he could enumerate all the bishops 
appointed by the Apostles and their successors, down to 
his own time. He was a man of considerable learning, 
which he zealously employed in defence of Christianity. 
He was first presbyter, and afterward bishop in Gaul. The 
earnestness of his preaching made many converts. He had 
strong faith that the second coming of Christ was nigh at 
hand, and drew luxurious pictures of the felicity of his 
kingdom on earth. He was fervent and energetic in the 
discharge of his pastoral duties, but none had cause to 
accuse him of arrogance ; and he was so sincerely devout T 
that he was called Irenseus the Divine. 

Justin Martyr. — Flavius Justinus, commonly called 
Justin, was born in Samaria, of Grecian parentage. He is 
the first of the Christian Fathers, on record, in whose mind 
Christianity mingled with Grecian culture ; and especially 
with the Platonic philosophy. His youth was zealously 
devoted to the study of Zeno and Aristotle ; but not finding 
in their writings the satisfaction he expected, he turned to 
the doctrines of Plato, in which he was for a while com- 
pletely absorbed. Alluding to Plato's doctrine that the 
soul by contemplation on divine things might be so lifted 
up as clearly to perceive spiritual realities, he says: "I 
foolishly hoped that I should soon behold the Deity." In this 
state of mind, he sought frequent opportunities for solitary 
meditation. Walking alone by the sea-shore one day, he 


met a venerable old man, who spoke to him of Jesus Christ, 
and advised him to study the Hebrew Prophets, who had 
foretold his coming. This conversation, and the heroism 
with which he had seen some Christian martyrs suffer death, 
led to his conversion, about the year one hundred and 
thirty-three. But he carried into his new faith a strong 
attachment to many of the Platonic ideas. He believed 
in One Supreme Being, from whom emanated the Logos, 
[Word] who created the world. He supposed the Logos 
was a substantial ray of divine light internally communi- 
cated to the souls of men, by aid of which all truth was 
perceived. After his conversion to Christianity, he thought 
his own mind was supernaturally illuminated to discern 
that Christ was the Logos; and that it was he to whom 
God was represented as saying : u Let us make man in our 
image." He also deemed that the author of Proverbs 
represented Christ the Logos as saying: "I Wisdom was set 
up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth 
was. The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, 
before the works of old. When he prepared the heavens, 
I was there. When he gave to the sea his decree that 
the waters should not pass his commandment ; when he 
appointed the foundations of the earth, I was by him as 
one brought up with him ; and I was daily his delight, 
rejoicing always before him." Justin was the first of the 
Christian Fathers, who exalted the dignity of Christ by 
identifying him with the Logos. 

Like Philo, he declared that no one had ever seen God 
the Father, at anytime. He says: "It was our Christ 
who spake to Moses from the bush, in the form of fire, and 
said, Put off thy shoes." He believed the Logos had often 
appeared to the Patriarchs in the form of a man ; that he 
dwelt in Jesus Christ, enabling him to work miracles, and 
reveal his Father unto men. Explaining Christian views, in 
an apology addressed to the princes of the empire, he says : 
" Next after God we adore and love that Lo^os which is 
derived from the ineffable and unbegotten God. Who 
alone is properly called his Son ; the Logos, who was with 


him, and begotten by him, before the creatures." " The 
Logos of Grod is sometimes called his Son; sometimes 
Wisdom ; sometimes an Angel ; sometimes the Lord ; 
sometimes one sent by another. Hence, it was said, He 
that heareth me, heareth him that sent me." " The Logos 
of the underived and ineffable Deity, is Christ, of whom the 
whole human race partakes; who, for our sakes became 
man, that, sharing our infirmities, he might heal our dis- 

In the course of his investigations, Justin probably be- 
came acquainted with the writings of Philo. He might 
have received from him, or from other Jews, or from Jewish 
Christians, the idea, which was strongly impressed on his 
mind, that all knowledge of divine things had been ori- 
ginally revealed to Moses, and transmitted from him. He 
maintained that all truth ever perceived by men, in any 
part of the world, was by inspiration of the Logos ; to this 
idea of Philo, and the Platonists, he added the doctrine 
that Christ was the Logos ; therefore, the direct inference 
was that all gleams of truth, wheresoever found, might 
be justly claimed as Christian. He says: "All writers, 
through the seed of the Logos sown within them, are able 
obscurely to discern those things which have a real ex- 
istence." He deemed that Plato far surpassed all other 
philosophers; and assuming that his wisdom came from 
the Logos, either by direct inspiration to his own soul, or 
indirectly, through what had been revealed to Moses, he 
came to the conclusion that whatever was valuable in his 
writings, as well as in those of the Hebrew Lawgiver, and 
Prophets, might be justly claimed as revelations from 
Christ, and as such incorporated with Christianity. The 
tendency thus introduced is conspicuous, under various 
modifications, in the after-growth of opinions. 

But though Justin reverenced the truth he found in 
Grecian philosophy, and though he perceived its resem- 
blance to Christianity, in many points, its cold intellectual 
light did not satisfy his religious nature ; and this deficiency 
he endeavoured to point out in writings addressed to those 
Vol. II.— 25 n 


who still remained satisfied with philosophy. In the 
course of his argument addressed to such minds, he says : 
"The power of the Logos does not produce poets; does 
not create philosophers, or able orators ; but, by forming 
mortal men anew, it makes them immortal ; converts mor- 
tals into gods. It transports us from the earth, beyond the 
limits of Olympus. Come and submit yourselves to its in- 
fluence. Become as I am ; for I, too, was as you are. This j 
has conquered me ; the divinity of the doctrine, the power 
of the Logos. As a master serpent-charmer lures out and 
frightens away the hideous reptile from his den, so the 
Word drives the fearful passions of our sensual nature 
from the most secret recesses of the soul. The cravings of 
lust having once been banished, the soul becomes calm and 
serene ; and, delivered from the evil which had cleaved to 
it, returns to its Creator." In other portions of his writings, 
he says : "I also was once an admirer of the doctrines of 
Plato, and I heard the Christians abused. But when I saw 
them meet death, and all that is accounted terrible among 
men, without dismay, I knew it to be impossible that they 
should live in sin and lust. I despised the opinion of the 
multitude. I glory in being a Christian, and I take every 
pains to prove myself worthy of my calling." " I found in 
the doctrine of Christ the only sure and salutary philosophy ; 
for it has in it a power to awe, which restrains those who 
depart from the right way ; and the sweetest peace is the 
portion of them that practise it. That this doctrine is 
sweeter than honey is evident; since we who have been 
formed by it, refuse to deny the name of Christ, even unto 

Justin retained the Platonic idea, which was, indeed, 
common to nearly all systems, that a Spirit was appointed 
to preside over each of the elements, the planets, and the 
stars. He also adopted the idea that Matter was the origin 
of evil. He delighted in glowing pictures of the millenium, 
for which his mind was first prepared by descriptions of the 
Golden Age ; in Plato and other Grecian and Eoman writers, 
and afterward by pictures of the Messiah's kingdom, in the 


Hebrew Prophets. He, as well as many others of the 
Christian Fathers, continued to wear the philosopher's 
robe ; a garment then generally worn by teachers of wis- 
dom, or morality. This attracted inquiring minds toward 
them, and furnished them with more frequent opportunities 
to converse upon Christian doctrines. 

After his conversion, he still continued to be called 
Justin the Philosopher, though he devoted himself with 
great zeal to the propagation of Christianity. A Jew named 
Trypho, whom the war excited by Bar-Cochebas had driven 
from Palestine, was then travelling about Greece, and had 
become interested in Greek philosophy. Justin's robe at- 
tracted him, and brought them into conversation with each 
other, concerning the nature of God, and his dispensations 
of truth to mankind. Justin travelled to Ephesus with him, 
and improved every opportunity to convince him from the 
Hebrew Scriptures, that Jesus was the Messiah promised 
by the Prophets. These conversations were put down in 
the form of a written dialogue, which is still in existence. 
He wrote other works addressed to the Gentiles, and to 
the heretical sects, which from the time of Simon Magus 
troubled the church. When he went to Eome, he proved 
his sincerity and courage by writing an Apology for 
Christians, supposed to have been addressed and presented 
to the emperor Marcus Aurelius. He asks that men would 
cease to place reliance on the unfounded reports of the 
populace, and represents the injustice and cruelty of per- 
secuting unoffending citizens, who were trying to lead a 
virtuous and holy life. He acknowledges that much truth 
was to be found in the old philosophies, and explains how 
he came to be convinced that Christianity was the more 
excellent way. This document was mild, liberal, and 
apologetic in its tone ; but the author was soon after 
arrested, on the charge of impiety for neglecting the 
established worship. As he publicly confessed himself a 
Christian, and refused to sacrifice to the gods, he was con- 
demned to be scourged and beheaded. The sentence was 
executed in the seventy-fifth year of his age ; supposed to 


be not far from one hundred and sixty-four years from ou? 
era. He was thenceforth called Justin Martyr. He is very 
highly praised by the early Christian writers. 

Tatian. — Tatian of Assyria, who flourished in the year 
one hundred and seventy, was educated in the old religion 
of Greece and Borne, and in the course of extensive travels 
became acquainted with almost every variety in its forms 
of worship. None of them seemed to him rational ; and 
he was especially displeased with those Festivals, which, 
under the name of religion, had become scenes of intem- 
perance and debauchery. The allegorical interpretations, 
which philosophers gave to stories concerning the gods, 
failed to satisfy the requirements of his soul ; and he felt 
that it was hypocritical, and therefore wrong, to join in the 
popular worship outwardly, if it conveyed no religious 
meaning to his mind. He was initiated into the Mysteries, 
but the light he received did not fulfil the expectations be 
had formed. In this state of mind he met with a copy of 
the Hebrew Scriptures, in the Greek translation. Having 
heard them spoken of as of high antiquity, his curiosity 
was excited to read them ; and he was deeply impressed by 
the perusal. He says : u These writings won my confidence 
by the simplicity of their st}"le, the unaffected directness 
of the speakers, the intelligible account of creation, the 
predictions of future events, the salutary tendency of the 
precepts, and the prevailing doctrine of one God." He 
made a visit to Borne, where he became acquainted with 
Justin Martyr and was attracted toward him by the simi- 
larity of their philosophic education, and subsequent states 
of mind. This friendship introduced him to a knowledge 
of the Christian Scriptures, by which he was converted. 
Like his teacher, he joined many Platonic ideas with 
Christianity. He believed that the Logos emanated from 
God, without being separated from him. He supposed that 
Matter was the origin of evil, and that by means of a Spirit, 
or Soul, connected with it, and kindred to its own nature, 
it produced the devils. He believed that man had a 


rational soul, an irrational soul, and a body. The rational 
soul was an emanation from the Logos ; and by means of 
that indwelling celestial ray of light, he was rendered im- 
mortal, and capable of communion with Deity. The irra- 
tional soul, man received from Spirits inferior to the Logos; 
and being connected with Matter, it partook of its imper- 
fection. If the inferior soul . had been kept in perfect 
subjection to the superior, man would have remained an 
immortal image of the Logos, as he was when he was first 
created. But by yielding to sin, he lost the interior ray of 
celestial light, and became subject to death. From these 
premises, he adopted the conclusion that, after the fall 
of Adam, the souls of men became mortal, as well as their 
bodies ; an idea, entertained by many Jews, as mentioned 
in the first volume. To bring men again into communion 
with Deity, and restore the immortality they had lost, he 
supposed it was necessary for the Logos to enter a human 
form ; and this he did in the person of Jesus Christ. 

Tatian wrote a vindication of Christianity, under the title 
of a Discourse to the Greeks. He long survived his friend, 
Justin Martyr, whose memory he always cherished with 
the utmost veneration. The views here briefly expressed 
gradually developed into forms which did not receive the 
sanction of the church, and he was numbered among 

Theophilus. — Theophilus, who was bishop of Antioch 
in the year one hundred and sixty-eight, was also of Gentile 
parentage, and much imbued with Platonic philosophy 
before he became a Christian. He believed that God had 
always within himself his Logos, or Wisdom, which he sent 
forth from his bosom ages before the universe was pro- 
duced ; that all things were created by the agency of the 
Logos, who guided the Patriarchs and Moses, inspired the 
Prophets, and manifested himself in Jesus Christ. 

Tertullian. — Quintus Florens Tertullian, who was born 
about one hundred and sixty years from our era, was the 
Vol. II.— 25* 


son of a Eoman centurion at Carthage, He is supposed to 
have been a lawyer, or a rhetorician, and not to have em- 
braced Christianity till he arrived at manhood, He had 
accumulated a good deal of knowledge, for his time, and 
was familiar with Greek and Koman literature, but held all 
their artistic culture, and love of beauty, in stern contempt. 
He was a man of vehement zeal, austere in his principles, 
and fierce in his opposition to all whom he regarded as 
heretics. He was accustomed to say that none but Chris- 
tians had a right to the Sacred Scriptures ; heretics were 
not Christians; therefore, heretical sects had no right to 
quote Scripture. In the latter part of his life, he himself 
withdrew from what was considered the orthodox party, 
and joined the Montanists, regarded by the majority of 
Christians as heretics. He wrote a great deal, but mostly 
in a controversial form. Arguing concerning the exist- 
ence of Deity, he thus expresses himself concerning the 
Logos : " God, before the formation of the universe, was 
not alone : for he had with him, and in him, his own Eea- 
son, which Greeks call Logos; and in Eeason he had Speech, 
which he could make a second principle from himself, by 
acting within himself." 

Clement of Alexandria. — Titus Flavius Clement is 
supposed to have been born in Athens. His eager thirst 
for knowledge led him to travel in search of it into various 
parts of Greece, Egypt, Italy, Syria, and Palestine. The 
various influences which acted upon his mind may be con- 
jectured from the teachers he enumerates. One was from 
Ionia, another from Magna Grecia in Italy, another from 
Coelo Syria, another from Egypt ; others came from the 
East ; of whom one was an Assyrian, another a Jew. At 
that time, there generally prevailed among scholars a sys- 
tem called Eclectic, from Greek words, meaning to select 
from. Following this tendency, Clement strove to glean 
portions of truth from all sources, and combine them into 
one harmonious system. He says: "I espoused not this 
or that philosophy; not the Stoic, nor the Platonic, nor 


the Epicurean, nor that of Aristotle ; but whatever any of 
these sects had said, that was fit and just, teaching right- 
eousness with a divine and religious knowledge, all that 
being selected, I call philosophy." 

He spent most of his life in Alexandria, where he be- 
came acquainted with the Christian church and joined it. 
He was held in high esteem for his learning and virtues, 
and in the year one hundred and ninety he was appointed 
presbyter. There was at that time a Christian school estab- 
lished at Alexandria, and they selected for catechists, or 
teachers, converts who were thoroughly acquainted with 
Grecian religion and philosophy, and therefore well quali- 
fied to answer such objections as would be brought by 
learned Gentiles. Clement was for some time at the head 
of this school. He favoured an allegorical mode of inter- 
preting the Scriptures, and thus found within them what- 
ever his mind had been previously convinced of. Like 
Justin Martyr, he carried into Christianity a good deal of 
respect for the philosophies, which had stimulated his intel- 
lect in its search after truth. He says:- "God, as the au- 
thor of all good, was author of the Greek philosophy. This 
was the schoolmaster to the Greeks, as the Law was to the 
Jews, preparing the way for Christianity." He, however, 
thought that Grecian wisdom was received through the me- 
dium of an inferior degree of angels. He believed in One 
Underived God, from whom proceeded the Logos, that cre- 
ated the world. He says : " The Son is the Power of God, 
the Wisdom, in which the Father delighted ; the most an- 
cient Logos, before all things that were made, and especially 
the chosen teacher of those that were made by him. God 
cannot be shown, nor can he teach ; but the Son is wisdom, 
and knowledge, and truth." He supposed that the stars 
were animated by Spirits, who were subordinate agents in 
the management of the universe, and also retained the Pla- 
tonic idea that man had a rational soul, and an inferior 
soul, the seat of the sensations. The oriental idea that this 
world was created for the purification of erring Spirits, and 
that the process was continued in other regions, after death, 


with a view to the final restoration of all things to original 
order, had passed into Greek philosophy, and was received 
by Clement. He urged this doctrine with great zeal, and 
thought it was proved by the statement that Christ de- 
scended into Hades. He believed a tradition then current 
that both Christ and his Apostles went there to baptize the 
old patriarchs and prophets. 

Clement testifies of himself that he was instructed by 
several disciples of the very chief Apostles, who had truly 
preserved traditions of the teaching of Peter, James, and 
John. In the year two hundred and twelve he visited Je- 
rusalem. The bishop there recommended him, in a letter 
to the church at Antioch, as " a godly minister, a man both 
virtuous and well known, with whom they were already ac- 
quainted, and who had confirmed and promoted the church 
of Christ." Clement of Alexandria wrote much in expla- 
nation and defence of Christianity. Many of these writ- 
ings remain, and are valuable as illustrating the character 
of the times, and the state of the church at that period. 

Origen. — Origen was born at Alexandria, in one hun- 
dred eighty-five. He was early instructed in Christianity 
by his father, and became a pupil in the school of Clement. 
His father, Leonides, gave bim a portion of Scripture to 
learn every day, and when he was a boy he was never sat- 
isfied with having merely the literal sense explained, but 
was always inquisitive concerning the inward meaning. 
His father sometimes checked this tendency, as a presump- 
tuous spirit of curiosity, unbecoming to his years. But he 
secretly rejoiced in the activity and earnestness of his mind, 
and thanked God for giving him such a son. When the 
child was asleep, it is said he would often uncover his 
breast and kiss it reverently, regarding it as a temple for 
the Holy Spirit. 

His intellectual as well as religious education received 

careful attention ; and it is evident from his writings that he 

^ was, thoroughly imbued with Grecian philosophy. When 

\ he was sixteen years old, Christians in that part of the 


world were suffering under persecution, in the reign of 
Septimius Severus. His father was thrown into prison, and 
he was eager to rush before the authorities and avow him- 
self a Christian, that he might share his fate. His mother, 
having vainly tried to dissuade him from his purpose, re- 
sorted to the expedient of hiding all his garments. Find- 
ing himself unable to leave the house, he wrote to his fa- 
ther: " See that thou changest not thy mind for our sakes." 
Leonides was beheaded, and all his property confiscated. 
His widow was thus left destitute, with seven children. 
Origen, who was the eldest, was received into the family 
of a rich and noble lady, a convert to Christianity. He 
soon freed himself from this dependent position, and sought 
the means of supporting his mother and six younger broth- 
ers, by teaching grammar and philosophy. In the midst 
of these labours, he was continually visiting the Christians 
who were in prison, ministering to their necessities, sustain- 
ing their courage, and manifesting his affectionate sympathy 
by hugging and kissing those who were led forth to execu- 
tion. This so irritated the populace, that he was several 
times nearly killed by stones thrown at him. On some of 
these occasions, soldiers surrounded his house to seize him, 
and he was saved by escaping secretly from one house to 
another. The school for young converts, formerly super- 
intended by Clement, was then suspended, on account of 
the persecution. The intellectual culture of Origen, and 
the earnestness of his character, combined with the exem- 
plary purity of his life and conversation, induced inquiring 
minds among the Gentiles to apply to him for instruction. 
Many of these he conducted through the portal of philoso- 
phy into the Christian church ; and some of them after- 
ward became renowned teachers and martyrs. Though he 
was then but eighteen years old, his reputation for learning 
and sobriety, and his great success as a lecturer, attracted 
the attention of Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria, who ap. 
pointed him a teacher in the church. His lectures, mean- 
while, were attended by crowds of men and women, and 
the number continually increased. His zeal and self-denial 



were truly wonderful. Printing was then unknown, and 
he had copied for his own use, with great neatness and 
beauty, a collection of the ancient authors. These he sold, 
and reduced his expenditures to about nine cents a day, 
that he might have more time to d.evote to Christian teach- 
ing, without incurring obligations to others. He slept but 
little, and always on the bare ground. He went barefoot, 
and wore but one coat, however inclement the weather; 
because Christ had said to his disciples: "Provide neither 
two coats, neither shoes." His careful conscience rendered 
him fearful of bringing reproach on the church by yielding 
to temptation, surrounded as he constantly was by young 
pupils, of both sexes, who were strongly attached to him ; 
and in the sincerity of his youthful zeal, he obeyed, as if it 
were a literal injunction, the saying: " There be those who 
have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of Hea- 
ven's sake." Later in life, he viewed such literal inter- 
pretation of Scripture as a mistake. 

In the school of Clement he had doubtless become more 
or less acquainted with Grecian philosophy ; and after the 
death of his father, he cultivated such studies, as necessary 
to his office of public teacher. He says: "When I had 
wholly devoted myself to the promulgation of the divine 
doctrines, and the fame of my skill in them began to be 
spread, and sometimes heretics, sometimes such as had been 
conversant with the Grecian sciences, and particularly men 
from the philosophic schools, came to visit me, it seemed 
to me necessary that I should examine the doctrinal opin- 
ions of the heretics, and what the philosophers pretended 
to know of the truth." Actuated by this motive, he at- 
tended the lectures of a highly esteemed teacher of Platonic 
philosophy, supposed to be the celebrated Ammonius Sac- 
cas. It required a much more exclusive and repellant 
nature than Origen possessed, to escape the tendency to 
eclecticism, which at that formative period so universally 
prevailed. His high moral sense bound him strongly to 
Christianity ; the natural delicacy and refinement of his 
organization attracted him toward the poetic beauty of 


Grecian culture, and particularly toward the spiritualized 
intellect of Plato ; his kindly disposition led him to ac- 
knowledge good wheresoever he found it ; and his large 
and liberal soul was ready to accept what seemed to him 
true, from whatever source it flowed. 

He acknowledged a personal God, embracing in his con- 
sciousness all things that exist, and creating by the exercise 
of his will. This view differed from the Platonic theory 
of a pure impersonal Being, without consciousness, from 
whom other beings emanated by an inherent law. He 
believed the Logos was in the Father what reason is in 
man ; that he was dependent upon him, and employed as an 
agent in creating the world ; that he was the concentration 
of God's glory, by whom it was reflected throughout the 
world of Spirits. He was the Truth and the Wisdom, 
revealing truth and wisdom to all capable of receiving. 
The Holy Spirit was the Divine Energy of Deity. As the 
Son and the Holy Spirit were incomparably exalted above 
all other spiritual existences, so the Father was incompa- 
rably exalted above them. 

He supposed that Jesus Christ was a perfect human 
being, with a rational soul, a sensitive soul, and a body, 
like other men. The Logos of God united himself to the 
rational soul of Christ ; that being the part of mortals which 
was a portion of his own celestial nature. By this means, 
the Logos came into communication with the sensuous 
nature, and Christ received supernatural power. The union 
took place at the very first moment of human existence, 
but the consequences were not completely developed until 
after the resurrection. The indwelling Logos gradually 
assimilated the whole being of Christ to his own ; so that 
at the ascension, even his body became transfigured to a 
form analagous with the Divine Essence. The Holy Spirit 
he supposed descended upon Jesus at baptism. 

He thought prayers ought to be addressed to the Father 
only, but always through the mediation of the Son. He 
asks : " Why may not this be expressed in the sense of him 
who said, ' Why callest thou me good ? There is none 


good but one, that is God. Why prayest thou to me? 
Thou shouldst pray to the Father alone ; to whom I also 
pray. You have learned from the Scriptures that you must 
not pray to the High Priest, whom God has appointed to 
intercede for you ; but through him. So also you are not 
to pray to him whom the Father has ordained your advocate 
and intercessor ; but you are to pray through him, who can 
be touched with your infirmities, having been tempted in 
all points, like as ye are, yet, by the gift of God, without 
sin. Learn then what a gift you have received from my 
Father, when, by your new birth in me, ye have received 
the Spirit of adoption, that ye might be called sons of God, 
and my own brethren.' " 

He believed that the self sacrifice of a perfectly holy 
being helped to free others who were subject to the power 
of evil. This he regarded as a moral law of the universe, 
proved by the universal belief of mankind that innocent 
individuals, by sacrificing themselves, had averted great 
calamities impending over whole cities and nations. In 
this way, he thought Christ had aided all souls by crippling 
the power of Satan. 

He taught that the Scriptures had a threefold sense, ana- 
lagous to the rational soul, the sensitive soul, and the body 
of man. The inmost sense was for those who had attained 
to such spirituality that they could perceive revelations of 
Divinity in its fulness ; there was an intermediate allego- 
rical sense, for those who had not yet attained to such an 
exalted state of vision ; and there was the outward letter, 
in which high truths were veiled for the instruction of the 
multitude. He says : u The mass of genuine and simple 
believers testify to the utility even of this inferior under- 
standing of the Scriptures." In illustration of this view, he 
declares : " The Word continually becomes flesh, in order to 
dwell among us." The outward letter, he spoke of as " The 
Word taking the form of a servant." He says : " But when 
we have leaned on the bosom of the incarnate Word, and 
are able to follow him as he goes up into the high moun- 
tain, then we shall see the transfiguration of Scripture." 


To attain to this state of exalted perception, faith was 
requisite. He said : " Believe first ; and beneath that which 
thou accountest an offence, thou shalt find much that is 
profitable for holiness." All the external laws, and the 
history of earthly events, both in the Old Testament and 
the New, he explained as symbolical of higher laws, and a 
higher history, relating to a spiritual kingdom. He insisted 
that in most cases the external and internal sense must 
both be adhered to, and that it was never right to give up 
the latter until after the most careful and conscientious 
examination. In some cases he rejected the outward sense. 
He denied that there had ever been a material Paradise, 
and considered the Garden of Eden an allegorical repre- 
sentative of the heavenly world, from which the Spirit of 
Adam fell, when he was attracted toward Matter. Yiewing 
David only as the inspired prophet of God, he could not 
regard the story of Uriah as literally true. Philo had met 
similar difficulties in the same way ; and both of them, 
having great reverence for the Scriptures, explained such 
passages as stones of stumbling, interspersed to stimulate 
men to deeper investigation. 

Origen acknowledged the importance of miracles, as a 
means of awakening faith ; but he regarded such faith 
merely as a step by which men might ascend higher to an 
intuitive perception of truth. He says : " The Jews be- 
lieved in Jesus as a worker of miracles, but they had not 
the recipient temper for divine truth, and therefore did not 
believe in him as a revealer of the more profound truths 
of religion. We see the same thing exemplified by mul- 
titudes at the present day, who wonder at Jesus when they 
contemplate his history, but believe him no longer when 
some doctrine is unfolded beyond their comprehension." 
" They who have received the free gift of Divine Wisdom, 
live no longer in faith, but in open vision ; they are the 
spiritual-minded, who are no longer at home in the body, 
but even while here below are present with the Lord." 
But while he dwells much on these higher gifts of the spirit, 
he cautions Christian teachers " not to despise the little 
Vol. II.— 26 


ones, through vain conceit of wisdom and superiority, as 
great ones in the church ; but to fulfil the will of Christ 
by becoming children with children." 

Origen accepted the common idea that the stars had 
souls ; and he considered it proved by Job's assertion that 
" the morning stars sang together." He believed that they 
took friendly interest in the affairs of men, and could 
foresee future events. He says : " We know that angels 
have the government of fruits and seasons, and the pro- 
duction of animals committed to them. We speak well of 
them, and think them happy that they are intrusted by 
God to manage the conveniences of human life, but we 
do not give them that honour which is due to Deity alone. 
For neither does God allow it, nor do they desire it. They 
love and care for us equally, whether we do or do not 
sacrifice to them." He supposed that Angels had ethereal 
bodies, and that Evil Spirits were in grosser forms. In the 
beginning, all existences were in harmony with God, and 
happy in communion with him. But the will of some 
became at variance with the Divine will, thus the harmony 
of the universe was disturbed, and could only be restored 
by a long process of purification. This world was created 
as a scene of purification for those who had become inca- 
pable of an entirely spiritual life. All human souls were 
fallen Spirits, who had sinned, in greater or less degrees, in 
their existence previous to entering a human body. Adam 
was the first of these Spirits who was clothed in flesh. 
They were of a vast variety of orders, placed in progres- 
sively ascending regions, and in various modes of existence, 
according to the use they had made of liberty. Through 
these spheres wandering souls passed till the process of 
purification was completed, and they were enabled to 
return to their original condition. Those who had made 
good use of their probation on earth, after they departed 
from the body felt sympathy for those they left hehind, 
and delighted to assist them in their upward course. 
Origen expressly says : " All the holy men who have de- 
parted from this life, retaining their charity toward those 


whom they left behind, are anxious for their salvation, 
and assist them by their prayers, and their mediation with 
God." He believed that the Logos united himself to a 
mortal, to form a medium between human souls and their 
Heavenly Father, and lead them back to intimate commu- 
nion with Him. The souls of the good would become 
continually more and more perfect, through the revolution 
of ages; the bad, both among human beings and Evil 
Spirits, would gradually become purified, and all would at 
last be restored to order and happiness. The imperfec- 
tions of Matter had obstructed the beneficent operations of 
Deity ; but Matter itself would finally become refined into 
a better substance, and thus nothing would be left at dis- 
cord with the Divine Nature. All Spirits would have in- 
tuitive communion with the Supreme, through the Logos, 
and all would know the Son, as perfectly as the Son knew 
the Father. This universal restoration seemed to him the 
unavoidable result of God's impartial justice and all per- 
vading love. But, like the Buddhists, he believed that the 
will of Spirits would again deviate from the will of the 
Supreme ; and as soon as one ceased to be absorbed in the 
All Perfect, and wished to be anything for himself, evil 
would germinate anew. A world would be again created, 
and mortal bodies prepared for the Spirits, who would 
again descend into them ; there would be another process 
of progressive purification, which would again result in 
the perfect union of all things with the Supreme. This 
alternation from unity to manifoldness would go on for- 

During a visit to Palestine, Origen attracted great atten- 
tion, and was invited by the bishops to preach at their as- 
semblies. On his way to Csesarea, he was consecrated to 
the office of presbyter, by an assemblage of bishops. This 
was the beginning of persecutions, which ever after troubled 
his life. His own bishop at Alexandria, who is said to have 
been jealous of his great reputation, took offence at this 
proceeding. He maintained that he alone had a right to 
consecrate Origen. He recalled him, summoned two coun- 


cils to deprive him of his priestl y office, banished him from 
his native city, and finally excommunicated him from the 
church. This sentence was confirmed at Rome, and by 
most of the other bishops. The nullification of his ordina- 
tion is said to have been grounded more on points of eccle- 
siastical order, than on questions of doctrine. Origen re- 
turned to Cassarea, where he was received with much favour 
by all the bishops in the surrounding regions. The high 
estimation in which he was held is shown by the fact that 
Synods of Bishops were accustomed to consult his opinion, 
when it was difficult to settle theological questions. He 
went to Arabia, by invitation of bishops in that province, 
to refute the bishop Beryllus, who affirmed that the divine 
nature of Christ did not exist before his human nature. 
Origen spoke so eloquently on the subject, that Beryllus 
was convinced, and sent him a letter of thanks. He was 
afterward summoned to a council held against certain sects, 
who maintained that the soul died as well as the body ; 
and there also he reasoned with so much ability, that he 
brought them all over to his opinion. He visited Athens 
and Eome, where he obtained great celebrity by the learn- 
ing and skill he displayed in the refutation of various sys- 
tems of philosophy. Mamcea, mother of the emperor Alex- 
ander Severus, a woman of uncommon intellect, requested 
an interview with Origen, when she passed through An- 
tioch. She received him with great respect, and had a long 
conversation on the subject of Christian doctrines. Though 
she was not converted by his arguments, it is not improba- 
ble that this conversation had considerable effect in pro- 
ducing the liberal policy which her son pursued toward 

The writings of Origen were exceedingly voluminous ; 
most of them biblical criticisms. Nearly all of them are 
lost ; having been committed to the flames, because some 
of his doctrines were not sanctioned by the sect that even- 
tually became paramount in the church. The greatest la- 
bour of his diligent life was the collection of a great variety 
of ancient versions of the Old Testament, and the careful 


comparison of them, word by word, with the original He- 
brew text. He was induced to this because Christians, in 
their controversies with Jews, were unable to quote from 
anything but the Greek translation, called the Septuagint ; 
and Palestine Jews constantly accused them of quoting 
texts which did not exist in Hebrew. Upon examination, 
he found that copies of the Septuagint varied from each 
other, and none of them altogether agreed with the Hebrew. 
It was a stupendous labour, and occupied him many years. 

During the persecution under Decius, Origen was ar- 
rested, and having boldly confessed, was thrown into prison. 
There they tried to subdue him by gradually increasing 
tortures. But though he was then an old man, the strong 
soul sustained the infirm body. He endured all his suffer- 
ings with patience, and from his prison wrote a letter of 
consolation and encouragement to his persecuted brethren 
of the faith. The cruelties inflicted on him are supposed 
to have shortened his life. He died about three years after, 
at the age of sixty -nine. 

Few men have had such warm admirers and such bitter 
persecutors, both before and after his death. He always 
had stedfast friends among some of the greatest ornaments 
of the church, and his most prejudiced opponents never 
denied his moral excellence. The general respect for his 
great intellect and uncommon worth was much increased 
by his candour and courtesy in argument, and by the uni- 
form meekness with which he met the attacks of his ene- 
mies. He is described as " one of the most eminent of the 
early Christian writers ; not only for his intellectual power 
and attainments, but also for the influence exercised by 
him, on the opinions of subsequent ages; and for the 
dissensions and discussions respecting his opinions, which 
have been carried on through many centuries, down to 
modern times." 

Gregory Thaumaturgus. — Gregory of Neocsesarea, in 
Pontus, was born of a noble and wealthy family. His 
father was devotedly attached to the old Roman worship, 
Vol. II.— 26* 


and educated his son in accordance with his own views, 
After his father's death, he travelled to perfect himself in 
Roman law ; being expected to open a brilliant career for 
himself as an advocate. But at Csesarea he became ac- 
quainted with Origen, and was so much attracted bj his 
lectures, that he forgot everything else in his eager pursuit 
after religious truth. He remained with him eight years. 
Concerning his expositions of the Scriptures he says : "It 
is my firm belief that he was able so to discourse only by 
communion with the Holy Spirit ; for it requires the same 
power to be a prophet and to understand prophets. This 
man received from God that greatest of all gifts, to be to 
men an interpreter of the words of God ; to understand 
God's Word as God speaks it, and to announce it to men as 
men can understand it." He was extremely reluctant to 
part from Origen and return with his brother to their na- 
tive city. In view of it, he exclaims: "Do thou, beloved 
head, stand up and dismiss us with thy prayer. As thou 
hast, by thy holy doctrines, guided us to salvation all the 
long time we have been with thee, so now we are to leave 
thee, guide us to salvation by thy prayers. Pra}' God to 
send a good angel to lead us, and to console us for our 
separation from thee. But pray also that he would bring 
us back to thee." 

Origen kept up an affectionate correspondence with 
this enthusiastic disciple. He assured him that he could 
become an able teacher of Eoman law, or an eminent 
instructor in the philosophical schools; but he advised 
him to devote his talents to the Christian church. 
When he returned to Neocoesarea, there were only seven- 
teen Christians in that place ; but the majority were soon 
converted by his zeal and eloquence. He retired for awhile 
into the wilderness, to devote himself to religious contem- 
plation, and to avoid being chosen bishop of the church 
which had grown up under his auspices. But during his 
absence, he was ordained to that office without his know- 
ledge, and came from the wilderness with great reluctance 
to answer to the call. He had remarkable success in mak- 



ing converts, and he was so celebrated for the miracles he 
performed, that he was universally called Gregory Thau- 
maturgus, the Wonder Worker. 

A Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus was written about 
a century after his death, by Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa. 
It contains many strange legends, which remarkably illus- 
trate the credulity of the times. A work which he wrote 
on the Trinity is much eulogized by his biographer. He 
says the Virgin Mary herself, accompanied by the Apostle 
John, appeared in a vision, and explained to him the 
mystery of godliness, which he wrote down in this short 
summary of faith, and left as a legacy to his church. He 
adds : " For excellency of divine grace, it may be compared 
with those tables of the Law made by God and delivered to 
Moses." In the time of Gregory of Nyssa, this document 
was still preserved as a holy relic by the church at Neo- 
cassarea ; and they averred that it was in the author's hand- 
writing. But the doctrine of the Trinity was then very 
hotly controverted, and some learned men say the manu- 
script had been much interpolated, to meet the exigencies 
of the time. 

Cyprian. — One of the most celebrated of the early 
Fathers was Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage. He was edu- 
cated in the old religion of Rome, and taught rhetoric with 
distinguished success. He was converted to Christianity in 
the year two hundred and forty-six, and became bishop two 
years after ; in which office he maintained a high reputation 
for eloquence and virtue. His ideas concerning subordina- 
tion in the churches were very strict ; and, combined with 
the dignity of his demeanour, did more to exalt the claims 
of bishops, than had been done by any of his predecessors. 
He believed they were divinely appointed to guide man- 
kind, and that it was impious for any one to dispute their 
authority in matters of faith. The church was then much 
troubled with schismatics, and he seems to have taken this 
ground from an earnest desire to preserve unity, rather 
than from personal ambition. It made him rigorous to- 


ward all whom lie deemed heretics ; but the bishops re» 
garded him as a tower of strength, and he was greatly 
admired and beloved by his people, toward whom he dis- 
charged his pastoral duties in a conscientious and paternal 

Such a man was, of course, a conspicuous mark for per- 
secution. He had always discountenanced rashness in 
incurring unnecessary danger, and, at the commencement 
of the Decian persecution, he prudently withdrew from the 
city, till the storm blew over. Extreme zealots blamed 
him for this, and accused him of setting a cowardly ex- 
ample; but the motives he assigns are such as would 
naturally actuate a man careful of the welfare of those 
over whom he presided. He says: "On the first com- 
mencement of the troubles, when the populace, with furious 
clamours, had frequently demanded my death, I retired for 
a while, not so much out of regard for my own safety, as 
for the public peace of the brethren ; lest the disturbance 
which had begun might be increased by my obstinate pre- 
sence." From his retreat, he wrote thus to his clergy : 
" I beg of you to use all prudence and care for the preser- 
vation of quiet. If our brethren, in their love, are anxious 
to visit those worthy Confessors, whom divine grace has al- 
ready honoured by a glorious beginning, this must be done 
with caution, and not in crowds, lest suspicion should be 
excited, and our access to them wholly prohibited. Be 
careful then, that for the greater safet}^, this matter be 
managed with due moderation. Indeed, we must in all 
things, with meekness and humility, as becomes the ser- 
vants of God, accommodate ourselves to the times, and 
seek for the preservation of peace, and the best good of the 

Soon after he returned to Carthage, a pestilence began to 
spread through the empire. Everybody was commanded 
to sacrifice to the gods, and those who refrained from so 
doing were again cruelly persecuted. Cyprian, being sum- 
moned before the tribunal, declared his determination to 
worship no other than the God of the Christians, " the true 


and only God." He was accordingly banished to the city 
of Curubis, where he remained in exile eleven months. 
But though absent in the body, he kept up an active cor- 
respondence with the Christian churches, to whom he wrote 
as follows : " My dearest brethren, let no one be disturbed 
because our people are scattered by the fear of persecution ; 
because he can no longer see the brethren together, nor 
hear the bishops preach. We, who may not shed the blood 
of others, but must be ready to pour out our own, cannot, 
at such a time, all meet together. Wherever it may hap- 
pen that a brother is separated from the church a while, in 
body, not in spirit, by the necessity of the times, let him 
not be appalled by the solitude of the desert, where he may 
be obliged to take refuge. He who has Christ for a com- 
panion is not alone. If robbers, or wild beasts, fall upon 
the fugitive, if hunger or cold destroy him, if the stormy 
waves of the sea overwhelm him, still Christ is present to 
witness the conduct of his soldier, wheresoever he fights." 

To those Christians who were imprisoned, or labouring 
in the mines, he sent money from the church treasury, and 
from his own income, accompanied with letters full of sym- 
pathy and affectionate encouragement. " What triumph," 
says he, " when you can walk through the mines with im- 
prisoned body, but with a heart conscious of mastery over 
itself! When you know that Christ is with you, rejoicing 
over the patience of his servants, who in his own foot- 
steps, and by his own way, are entering into the eternal 

When new governors were appointed, at the accession 
of Valerian, the banished bishops were recalled, and ordered 
to wait in retirement till the commands of the emperor 
decided their fate. Cyprian took up his residence at a 
secluded villa in the neighbourhood of Carthage, where he 
gave instruction and advice to such as could privately 
resort to him. Hearing that he was to be conveyed to 
Utica for trial, he yielded to the persuasions of friends, 
who urged him to hide himself for a time, till the governor, 
who was then absent, returned to Carthage; for being 


aware that lie was soon likely to join the band of martyrs, 
he chose to give his last testimony to the truth of Christi- 
anity in the presence of those who had long looked up to 
him for example. From his place of concealment, he wrote 
thus to his flock: "It becomes the bishop to confess the 
Lord in the place where he presides over the church of the 
Lord ; so that the whole church may be honoured by the 
confession of their bishop. For whatever proceeds from 
the lips of the confessing bishop, under the guidance of the 
Divine Spirit, comes from the mouths of all. Let me then 
await the return of the Proconsul to Carthage, that I may 
learn from him the commands of the emperor, and speak 
whatever the Lord, in that hour, may cause me to speak. 
But do you, my dearest brethren, study to preserve quiet, 
in conformity to the directions, which, according to the 
doctrine of the Lord, you have often received from me. 
Let no one of you lead the brethren into tumults, or volun- 
tarily give himself up. The only time for any one to speak 
is after he has been apprehended. In that hour, the Lord, 
who dwells in us, speaks in us." 

Soon after the governor's return he was arrested on the 
charge of continuing to teach Christianity, contrary to the 
orders of the government. During the day that he was de- 
tained in prison, to await his trial, the keepers treated him 
respectfully, and a multitude of Christians thronged round 
the building to catch a glimpse of their beloved bishop, 
knowing it might be for the last time. The examination 
was very brief. The magistrate said: "Art thou Cyprian, 
the bishop of so many impious men? The most sacred 
emperor commands thee to sacrifice." Cj^prian calmly re- 
plied : " I will not sacrifice." The magistrate bade him con- 
sider well. " Execute your orders," answered the bishop ; 
" it is a case that admits of no consideration." After a pre- 
amble, reminding him how pious emperors had vainly tried 
to reclaim him from his evil ways, he was sentenced to be 
beheaded ; to which he quietly replied : " God be thanked." 
As soon as the mournful tidings reached the multitude of 
Christians thronging round the palace gates, a general cry 


arose : " We will die with him ." He was carried to a 
neighbouring field to be beheaded. Before he received the 
fatal stroke, he directed that twenty-five pieces of gold 
should be bestowed on his executioner. His body was 
given to his sorrowing friends, who conveyed it to the 
Christian burial-place, with a long procession by torch-light. 
The magistrate who condemned him died a few days after ; 
and though he had long been in ill health, Christians re- 
garded it as a signal punishment from God for the death of 
their holy bishop. This martyrdom occurred in the year 
two hundred and fifty-eight. Cyprian left several works, 
which are still in existence. 


From this brief sketch of a few of the early Fathers of 
the church, it may be inferred that some of the wisest and 
best men of the time were in their ranks. But, like all 
other men, they bore the impress of the age in which they 
lived. They were credulous to an extreme degree ; but it 
was not peculiar to them ; for all the world was credulous. 
They believed that angels, who had fallen from their high 
estate by disobedience, were permitted to roam about the 
earth, producing diseases by entering the bodies of men, 
and endangering their souls by tempting them to idolatry; 
that it was their greatest delight to induce men to worship 
their own images, instead of the true God ; that they re- 
sided in the temples, entered the statues, pronounced ora- 
cles, and performed miracles. Tertullian exults in the tor- 
ments they endured, when Christians exorcised them in 
the name of Jesus. Some instances are recorded where 
the demon, being expelled from human bodies, and com- 
manded to acknowledge his name, confessed that he was 
Jupiter, or Apollo, or some other god of antiquity, who 
had impiously induced men to adore him. Justin Martyr 
says that all'the saints and the prophets had fallen under 
the power of Evil Spirits, like Python, at the time of 
Christ's coming ; and that was the reason why, when he 



was ready to give up the ghost, he commended his own 
spirit to God. 

Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, cotemporary with Ire- 
nseus, declares that it was Evil Spirits who inspired the 
poets and prophets of Greece and Eome. He says: " The 
truth of this is manifestly shown ; because those who are 
possessed by Devils, even at this day, are sometimes exor- 
cised by us in the name of God ; and the seducing Spirits 
confess themselves to be the same Demons who before in- 
spired the Gentile poets." 

Tertullian challenges the magistrates "to call before their 
tribunals any person possessed with a Devil, and if the Evil 
Spirit, when exorcised by any Christian whatsoever, did 
not own himself to be a Devil, as explicitly as in other 
places he would call himself a God, (not daring to tell a lie 
to a Christian,) that they should then take the life of that 
Christian." He asks: "What can be more manifest than 
this operation? What more convincing than this proof?" 
He further says, that Evil Spirits, in order to sustain the 
popular belief in their divinity, and to obtain nourishment 
from the steam of sacrifices, often miraculously cured the 
diseases which they themselves had occasioned. 

Cyprian says : " There are Evil Spirits, who lurk in the 
statues, inspire the soothsayers, direct the flight of birds, 
move the entrails of victims, excite terror in the minds of 
men, disturb their sleep, convulse their bodies, and destroy 
their health, in order to force men to worship them ; that 
being fattened by the steam of sacrifices, they may appear 
to cure the diseases which they themselves had caused ; 
though the only cure is in their ceasing to do harm. When 
adjured by us, in the name of the true God, they presently 
yield, confess, and are forced to quit the bodies they pos- 
sessed. By our command, and the secret operation of the 
Divine Power, you may see them lashed with scourges, 
scorched with fire, tortured by an increase of pains, howl- 
ing, groaning, begging, confessing whence they came and 
whither they go, even in the hearing of their own worship- 
pers. They either vanish immediately, or go out gradu- 


ally, according to the faith of the patient, or the grace of 
him who works the cure." He says elsewhere that some- 
times, when the Devil promised to go out of the diseased, 
he practised deception, "till compelled to depart by the 
salutary water of baptism." 

Minucius Felix, a converted Roman lawyer, who wrote 
an Apology for Christianity, early in the third century, 
says : " The greatest part of you know what confessions 
the Demons make concerning themselves, as often as they 
are expelled by us out of the bodies of men, by the torture 
of our words, and the fire of our speech. Saturn himself, 
and Serapis, and Jupiter, and the others whom you wor- 
ship, constrained by the pain they feel, confess who they 
are. Nor do they tell a lie, though the truth be to their 
own shame, especially when some of your people are pres- 
ent. Believe them, therefore, to be Devils, from their own 
testimony and true confession, when adjured by us, in the 
name of the true and only God." 

In a book ascribed to Justin Martyr, it is said : " Demons 
still speak, by those who are called ventriloquists." 

The Jewish Scriptures in Hebrew were at that time al- 
most unknown to Christians, who used only the Greek 
translation, called the Septuagint. In that version it was 
written : " The Angels of God saw that the daughters of men 
were fair, and made them wives of all that they chose ; and 
they bare children to them." From this text, Philo and 
other Jews who used the Greek translation of their Scrip- 
tures, derived the doctrine that Angels fell in love with 
mortal women, who gave birth to giants. The same idea 
was inculcated in the Book of Enoch, to which Jude refers 
in his Epistle. From these sources it was borrowed by the 
Christian Fathers, who seem also to have admitted what 
Greek and Roman poets wrote concerning the love-affairs 
of their Deities, and then combined them with the Hebrew 
tradition. Justin Martyr, in his Apology, says: "When 
God created the world, he committed the care of it to 
Angels, who, transgressing their duty, fell in love with 
women, and produced children, whom we call Demons. 
Vol. II.— 27 o 


These subdued mankind to their power ; partly by magical 
writings, partly by terrors and punishments, and partly by 
the institution of sacrifices, fumes, and libations, of which 
they soon began to stand in need, after they had enslaved 
themselves to their lusts and passions." Again he says : 
" The truth shall come out. Evil Demons of old debauched 
women, corrupted boys, and spread terrors among men, 
who did not examine things by reason. Seized with 
fear, and not knowing they were Evil Spirits, they called 
them Gods, and gave each one the name he had taken to 
himself. When Socrates endeavoured to expose their prac- 
tices, and by true reason draw men away from their 
worship, the Demons, by the help of wicked men, caused 
him to be put to death, as an atheist, and an impious 

Clement of Alexandria declares that the love of the 
Angels for women transported them so far beyond all pru- 
dence, that they revealed to them many secrets, which they 
ought to have kept concealed. The knowledge of alchemy 
and magic was supposed to have been obtained in this way. 
Some maintained that all ideas of a Supreme Being, and 
the immortality of the soul, except those revealed to 
Hebrews and Christians, came from conversation with 
these fallen Angels. Tertullian traced rouge, powder for 
the eye-lashes, bracelets, necklaces, and other ornaments 
of women's dress, to the researches of their celestial lovers 
into the hidden mysteries of nature, to find whatever might 
adorn the objects of their passion. He supposed Paul's 
injunction to women to wear veils had reference to the 
fatal effects their beauty once had on the Spirits above. 
He therefore strongly urges upon young women the duty 
of covering their heads. In the course of an elaborate 
argument upon this subject he says: "We read that 
Angels fell from God and heaven, because they lusted af- 
ter women. Therefore, faces so dangerous that heaven it- 
self may be scandalized by them, ought to be shaded. 
When in the presence of God, before whom they have 
been guilty of the extermination of Angels, they ought 


to blush before the other Angels, and refrain from an 
exposure of the head, not to be made even to the eyes 
of men." 

These and many other similar declarations prove that 
the Christian Fathers believed in the actual existence and 
power of the polytheistic Deities, as fully as any of their 
worshippers had ever done ; the only difference was that 
one regarded their influence as malignant, and the other as 
beneficent. The Bishop of Nyssa, in his Life of Gregory 
Thaumaturgus, relates the following story : Once, when 
Gregory was on a journey, he was obliged to take shelter 
for the night in one of the temples famous for oracles and 
divination, where the Demons were accustomed to appear 
visibly to the priests. Gregory, by invoking the name of 
Jesus, and making the sign of the cross, expelled them, 
and purified the place ; so that when the priest came in the 
morning, to perform the customary rites, he could obtain 
none of the usual signs of their presence. At last, they 
informed him that they had been driven out the night 
before, by a stranger, and had not power to return. The 
priest offered expiatory sacrifices, but it was all in vain. 
Upon this, he pursued Gregory in great wrath, and over- 
taking him on the road, made use of violent threats. Gre- 
gory told him he possessed a power superior to Demons, 
and that he could drive them out whenever he pleased. 
The priest begged him to give proof of this power, by 
causing them to appear again in the temple. He consented ; 
and wrote on a scrap of papyrus : " Gregory to Satan : 
enter!" As soon as the priest laid these words on the 
altar, the Demons made their appearance ; and this miracle 
converted him to Christianity. 

It was a common opinion with the Fathers that every 
magician had an attendant Evil Spirit, who came when 
summoned, obeyed his commands, and taught him cere- 
monies, and forms of words, by which he was enabled to 
do supernatural things. In this way, they were accus- 
tomed to account for miracles performed by Gentiles and 
heretics. They also state that Jews could cast out devils-, 


by invoking the name of God, provided it was spoken in 

But the power to cast out devils is often alleged by them 
as one of the most convincing proofs of Christianity. Ter- 
tullian says : " If Christians were to retire from the Eoman 
empire, where would be your protection against the devils, 
who make such havoc with your souls and bodies? It 
would be a sufficient piece of revenge if they should thus 
leave you open to the uncontrolled possession of Evil 

Justin Martyr, in his Apology, says to the people of 
Eome : " That the kingdom of Evil Spirits has been de- 
stroyed by Jesus, you may, even at the present time con- 
vince yourselves, by what passes before your own eyes. 
For many of us Christians have healed, and still continue 
to heal, in every part of the world, and in your city, num- 
bers possessed ox Evil Spirits, such as could not be healed 
by other exorcists, simply by adjuring them in the name 
of Jesus Christ." 

Irenseus says : "All who are true disciples of Jesus, 
receive grace from him, and work miracles in his name. 
Some cast out devils, so that those from whom they are 
ejected often turn believers and continue in the church ; 
others have visions, and a knowledge of future events; 
others heal the sick by merely laying their hands upon 
them. Even the dead have been raised, and have after- 
ward lived many years among us. It is impossible to 
reckon up all the mighty works, which the church performs 
every day, to the benefit of nations ; neither deceiving, 
nor making a gain of any, but freely bestowing what it 
has freely received." Again, speaking of raising the dead, 
he says : " It has been frequently performed on necessary 
occasions, when by great fasting, and joint supplications of 
the church of that place, the spirit of the dead person 
returned into him again, and the man was given back to 
the prayers of the saints." Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, 
cotemporary with Irenseus, though younger, was chal- 
lenged by his friend Autolycus, an eminent Eoman, to 


produce one person actually raised from the dead, and he 
would himself turn Christian ; but the answer of Theo- 
philus implied that he could not furnish one satisfactory 

Origen says : " By prayers and the repetition of passages 
of Scripture, we drive Devils before us, out of men and 
beasts. This is not done by any magical arts, but by 
prayer alone, and plain adjurations, or exorcisms, which 
any simple Christian may perform ; for common and illi- 
terate laymen are generally the actors in these cases." " The 
miracles that began with the preaching of Jesus were mul- 
tiplied after his ascension, and then decreased; but remains 
of them still continue with a few, whose souls are cleansed 
by the AYord, and a life conformable to it." Some by a 
miraculous power, received through faith in Christ, heal 
the sick, by invoking over them the name of God, or of 
Jesus, with a recital of some story from his life. I have 
myself seen many difficult cases so healed : insanity, mad- 
ness, and innumerable other evils, which neither men nor 
demons could cure." " There still remain among Christ- 
ians many indications of that Holy Spirit, which was seen 
in the shape of a dove. For they cast out devils, perform 
many cures, and foresee things to come, according to the 
will of the Divine Word. Many people have been con- 
verted to Christianity, as it were against their wills, by the 
Spirit giving a sudden turn to their minds, and offering 
visions to them, either by day or by night ; so that instead 
of hating the Word, they became ready even to lay down 
their lives for it. I have seen many examples of this sort. 
Should I only relate such as were transacted in my own 
presence, I should expose myself to the loud laughter of 
unbelievers, who imagine that we, like the rest, whom they 
suspect of forging such things, are also imposing our for- 
geries upon them. But God is my witness that my sole 
purpose is to recommend the religion of Jesus, not by ficti- 
tious tales, but by clear and evident facts." 

Yisions and prophetic gifts are mentioned as of common 
occurrence. Justin Martyr says : "There are prophetical 
Vol. II.— 27* 


gifts among us at this day, and both men and women 
indued with extraordinary powers by the Spirit of God." 

Tertullian says the greater part of converts came to the 
knowledge of the true God by means of visions. In an argu- 
ment to prove that women ought to wear veils, he mentions 
a sister of the Church, to whom an angel, in a dream, re- 
vealed the proper length and breadth of the veil. 

Cyprian says : " Besides visions of the night, even boys 
among us are filled with the Holy Ghost, and in fits of 
ecstasy, see, hear, and speak things by which the Lord 
thinks fit to instruct us." 

The Fathers acknowledge that skilful magicians, by aid 
of Evil Spirits, could perform similar miracles ; being able 
to infuse into people whatever dreams or visions they 
thought fit. Justin Martyr, addressing the Eoman people, 
says: "Let their magical power to call up ghosts, espe- 
cially of boys, and of those who died in some violent 
manner, convince you that the souls of men exist after 

The general tendency to view things in a supernatural 
light is indicated by the following circumstance, which 
Cyprian considered so remarkable, that he deemed it neces- 
sary to assure his readers he himself witnessed it. Certain 
parents, who fled hastily in time of persecution, left an in- 
fant in the care of a nurse. She carried it to the place 
where the people assembled to sacrifice, and the officiating 
priests gave the child some remains of what had been 
offered to the gods; consisting of bread dipped in wine. 
The mother returned soon after, and carried the babe with 
her to the Christian Sacrament. " Being mingled with the 
saints, it was seized with fits of crying, with tortures of 
mind, as if it had been upon the rack ; betraying all the 
signs its tender age could give of a consciousness of guilt. 
When the deacon offered the cup of wine, the infant, by a 
divine instinct, turned away, and shut its lips close. When 
he poured a little down its throat, by force, convulsions and 
vomitings ensued. The consecrated portion of the Lord's 
blood could not stay in a body and mouth so defiled. So 


great is the power and majesty of the Lord! The secrets 
of darkness are detected by its light ; for this happened to 
an infant too young to tell the crime practised upon it." 

Irenaeus says many in bis day received the gift of tongues, 
and were heard to speak all kinds of languages in the 
church. He himself did not receive that gift; for being 
appointed Bishop in Gaul, he complains that one of the 
greatest obstructions in the way of his usefulness was the 
necessity of learning a barbarous dialect before he could 
communicate with his people. 

Among innumerable miracles recorded is the following, 
wrought by Narcissus, who was Bishop of Jerusalem/ about 
the end of the second century. During the vigil of Easter, 
the oil in the lamps was nearly exhausted, and the people 
were greatly troubled. The bishop ordered those who had 
charge of the lamps to draw water from a neighbouring 
well and bring it to him. He prayed over it, and then told 
them to pour it into the lamps with sincere faith in Christ. 
They did so, "and by a miraculous and divine power, the 
water was changed to oil." Eusebius recorded this in his 
Ecclesiastical History, a hundred years after ; and he says 
that " numbers of the faithful still preserved small quanti- 
ties of the oil." 

In some cases, the stories of miracles performed by Gen- 
tiles, in the course of being repeated year after year, came 
to be transferred to the Christians. In the year one hundred 
and seventy -four, when the army of Marcus Aurelius was 
expecting an attack from the enemy, the blazing sun shone 
full in the faces of the soldiers, who were perishing with 
thirst, in consequence of a long continued drought. In this 
extremity, the emperor stretched forth his hands to implore 
aid from Jupiter, saying : " This hand, which has never yet 
shed human blood, I raise to thee !" This act of devotion 
was followed by an abundant shower of rain, to allay their 
thirst, succeeded by a tempest, which terrified their enemies. 
The Romans gained the victory, and ascribed it to the em- 
peror's prayer to " Jupiter, god of gods." Marcus Aurelius 
commemorated the event by a medal, on which Jupiter was 


represented hurling thunderbolts at the barbarian troops, 
many of whom lay stretched on the ground. There were 
also paintings in the temples, in which the emperor was 
represented in the attitude of prayer, while his soldiers 
caught the refreshing shower in their helmets. There were 
doubtless Christians in his army, and it is not unlikely that 
they crossed themselves, and prayed to their God, while 
others were invoking the aid of Jupiter. Perhaps Tertullian 
might have heard some of them say so, and have taken it 
for granted that only their prayers had any efficacy on the 
occasion; or he might have assumed that the phrase "God 
of gods," though commonly applied to Jupiter, must neces- 
sarily mean Jehovah. Giving an account of the event, in 
after years, he says : " Marcus Aurelius, during the German 
expedition, obtained, through prayers offered to God by 
Christian soldiers, showers of rain, in a time of thirst. 
"When has not the land been delivered from drought by 
our genuflexions and fasts ? In such cases, the very people 
who cried to the ' God of gods,' gave our God the glory, 
under the name of Jupiter." He states that the twelfth 
legion of the army was entirely composed of Christians, 
who fell on their knees and prayed to God. Thunder and 
rain were sent in answer to their prayers ; in consequence 
of which the emperor named them "The Thundering 
Legion," ceased to persecute the Christians, and published 
an edict threatening with severe penalties those who accused 
them on account of their religion. But the severe persecu- 
tion of Christians took place three years after the miracle ; 
the twelfth legion had always been called The Thundering 
Legion, from the time of the emperor Augustus ; and the 
medals and paintings prove that the emperor believed the 
rain was sent by Jupiter, in answer to his prayer. 

A great number of miracles were ascribed to making the 
sign of the cross. It is not possible to ascertain at what 
period this custom was introduced into Christianity. There 
is no allusion to it in the writings of the Apostles ; but it 
is conspicuous in those of the very early Fathers. It has 
been already stated that devotees of India have a pcrpen- 


dicular line and a horizontal line marked on their fore- 
heads; being, in their religion, types of the generative 
principle in universal nature. Egyptians had a sacred 
emblem formed by the same lines; and, to express the 
same idea, they called it the Emblem of Life. It was used 
by them as a talisman to protect them from evil. Its uni- 
versality is indicated by its frequent recurrence in all the 
religious and domestic scenes, represented in their palaces, 
temples, and tombs. When the early Christians saw this 
hieroglyphic symbol marked everywhere on Egyptian 
monuments, they inquired its meaning, and were very 
much impressed when told that it was the Emblem of Life. 
In their minds this signification was immediately associated 
with the cross of Christ. As they considered the brazen 
serpent of Moses typical of Christ, they would be likely to 
be still more struck with the fact that the Egyptian cross, 
twined with a serpent, signified Immortal Life. Whether 
the Egyptians of their time were in the habit of signing 
themselves with this ancient talisman is not recorded, so 
far as I am aware. Sir Gr. Wilkinson, in his valuable work 
on Egypt, states that he saw several tombs of the early 
Christians in that country inscribed with the Egyptian 
cross ; which is easily distinguished from the Christian, by 
the fact that the perpendicular line did not extend above 
the horizontal one. He says : "I can attest that numerous 
inscriptions headed by this symbol are preserved to the 
present day on early Christian monuments." Tertullian 
says : " The Devil, who makes it his business to pervert 
the truth, imitates the divine sacraments by idolatrous 
mysteries. If I rightly remember, the God Mithras makes 
the sign of the cross upon the foreheads of his worshippers." 
Whatever may have been the origin of the custom, the 
cross was universally used as a talisman against evil among 
the Christians, as it had been among the ancient Egyptians. 
It was believed to have miraculous power to cast out devils, 
to cure diseases, to counteract poison, and protect from ac- 
cidents. It formed a part of the ceremony in baptism, 
marriage, the Lord's Supper, and the ordination of the 



clergy. Christians always made the sign of the cross on 
the occasion of any sudden surprise, or whenever they were 
obliged to be present while others sacrificed to the gods ; 
as was the case with those who served in the army. Sup- 
posing that the popular deities actually came, in answer to 
invocations and sacrifices, and believing them to be evil, 
they were particularly cautious to render their presence 
powerless by the sign of the cross. Some had it marked 
on their foreheads ; probably as a perpetual protection 
against evil, whether conscious of its presence or not. Ter- 
tullian says : " At every setting out, or entry upon business, 
whenever we come in or go out from any place, when we 
dress for a journey, when we go into a bath, when we go to 
meat, when the candles are brought in, when we lie down, 
or sit down, and whatever business we have, we make on 
our foreheads the sign of the cross." Justin Martyr says 
the sea could not be passed, if sails were not suspended on 
a cross, and the earth could not be tilled if spades were not 
in that form. "Neither diggers nor artificers could do 
their work, except by instruments of that shape. The form 
of man differs in nothing else from other animals, but in 
the erectness of the body, and the extension of the arms, 
which shows nothing else but the figure of the cross." He 
says: "When the son of Nun, called Jesus [in Hebrew 
Joshua] led the people to battle, Moses employed himself 
in prayer, with his hands stretched out in the form of a 
cross. As long as he continued in that posture, Amalek 
was beaten ; but when he remitted, Israel suffered. This 
was owing to the power of the cross. The people did not 
conquer because Moses prayed ; but because the name of 
Jesus was at the head of the battle, and Moses was exhibit- 
ing the figure of the cross." 

It has been shown in the first volume that it was a cus- 
tom among all nations of antiquity to commemorate the 
death of a relative, by assembling at his grave, on the an- 
niversary of his departure from this world. They dressed 
the tomb with flowers, offered oblations for the soul of the 
deceased, implored his protection and aid in their under- 


takings, and employed priests to offer sacrifices and prayers. 
At the sepulchres of kings and heroes, these ceremonies 
were observed with an unusual degree of expense and 
splendour ; as is proved by Virgil's elaborate description 
of the honours paid by JEneas to the soul of his father. 
It was universally considered a great misfortune to leave 
no posterity to perform such rites. The same human feel- 
ings, which originally led to this custom, in all parts of the 
world, prompted Christians also to adopt it. Those among 
them, who had lost a relative, went to the church on the 
anniversary of his death, and laid a gift on the altar in his 
name, to signify that he was still a member of Christ's 
church, though his body was absent. They also partook 
of the Lord's Sapper in token of continued fellowship with 
him ; and the bishop, before administering the bread and 
wine, prayed for peace to the soul of the deceased. Ter- 
tullian says : " The widow prays for the soul of her de- 
parted husband, and begs refreshment for him in his 
intermediate state, and to be a partner with him in the 
first resurrection, and offers an oblation for him every 
year, on the day of his death." In another place, address- 
ing a widower, he speaks of " her for whose soul you pray, 
and commend, to Grod, through the priest, when you offer 
the annual oblation." Martyrs, who were the kings and 
heroes of the Christian church, were honoured with pecu- 
liarly solemn observances. All the members of the church 
to which they had belonged on earth assembled annually 
at their tombs. The clergy offered prayers, thanking the 
Lord for the example his saints had given to the world. 
Eulogies were pronounced, recounting the holy deeds and 
sayings of the deceased, their sufferings, and courageous 
death. The Lord's supper was administered, and the rites 
concluded with a distribution of gifts to the poor. These 
anniversaries were beautifully called, " The Birth Days of 
the Martyrs;" to signify that when they died, they were 
born into everlasting life. Romans had a time-honoured 
Festival, called the Parentalia, on which prayers were said, 
and oblations offered by all the people, for the souls of their 


ancestors. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop of Neocaesarea, 
early in the third century, thinking to increase the number 
of his proselytes by accommodation to popular customs, 
substituted on the same day, a Festival in honour of All 
the Martyrs, the spiritual ancestors of the church. Gentile 
nations were universally accustomed to offer to the gods, 
on such occasions, sacrifices of animals, or human beings. 
Christians had abrogated such customs, but preserved the 
idea of sacrifice in another form. The administration of 
the Lord's Supper was said to be a renewed sacrifice of his 
body and his blood, every time the ceremony was per- 
formed ; and in thus offering up the Son of God himself, 
they offered a sacrifice superior to thousands of oxen and 
ten thousands of rams. Expressions used by Cyprian in- 
dicate that this idea was inculcated in his day. Customs 
which originate in tender and devout feelings change their 
character when they become traditionary observances. 
The Festivals of the Martyrs gradually lost their sim- 
plicity, and the affectionate reverence which gathered up 
and cherished their remains, gave place to faith in the 
power of their relics to work miracles. Even during the 
lifetime of Tertullian, the honours paid to martyrs seemed 
to him so excessive as to need rebuke. 

The capacity for belief in those times was wonderfully 
great. Justin Martyr repeats the Jewish tradition that 
king Ptolemy sent to Jerusalem for seventy Rabbins, and 
shut them up in seventy separate cells, to translate the 
Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. When the translations 
were compared, they were found not to vary from each 
other in a single word ; " which is a demonstration that 
they were guided by divine inspiration." As proof of the 
story, he affirms that the seventy cells had been pointed 
out to him. Irenaeus tells the same story, and likewise 
asserts that the Hebrew Scriptures were utterly destroyed 
during the captivity in Babylon, and restored seventy years 
afterward by Ezra, whom God inspired expressly for the 

The predictions of Sibyls were held in great reverence 


among the Romans, and the credulity of the people was 
often imposed upon by spurious productions bearing that 
name. These the emperors from time to time caused to be 
collected and destroyed ; but the genuine Sibylline books 
were preserved in golden chests in the Temple of Apollo, 
and consulted only on important state occasions. Some of 
the early Christians, in their zeal to gain influence over 
the minds of men, wrote predictions concerning Christ, and 
passed them off as the genuine utterance of the ancient 
Sibyls. One of these Sibyls informs her readers that she 
was a daughter-in-law of Noah, and was with him in the 
Ark. Some of the prophecies were " merely the Mosaic 
history written in Greek hexameters." One described the 
miracles of Jesus, whom it mentioned by name, and fore- 
told that there would be an eclipse at the time of his cru- 
cifixion, that he would rise from the dead, and show his 
hands and feet to his disciples. Another, purporting to be 
composed by the famous Erythrasan Sibyl, in the sixth cen- 
tury after the Deluge, was written in the form of an acros- 
tic ; the first letters of the lines forming the words, Jesus 
Christ, Son of God, Saviour. Another Sibyl says: ''The 
Son of God shall come clothed in flesh, made like to men 
on earth, and shall have in his name four vowels and two 
consonants ;" which was the case with the name of Jesus 
in Greek. Another prophesied that Rome would be ut- 
terly destroyed in one hundred ninety-five. These frag- 
ments, after floating round for a considerable time, were 
collected into a book some time in the second century, un- 
der the title of Sibylline Oracles. In many of them the 
imposture is so very thinly veiled, that it is surprising they 
should have gained credence even with the most unreflect- 
ing. Nevertheless, they were often and triumphantly quo- 
ted by the Fathers, as evidence all the more valuable, 
because it came from the prophets of a religion opposed to 
Christianity. Justin Martyr speaks of them as written by 
divine inspiration. Alluding to the custom of keeping the 
Sibylline Books locked up in the Temple of Apollo, he 
says: "The Demons contrived to make it a capital crime 
Vol. II.— 28 


to read them, in order to keep men in subjection to them- 
selves, and prevent them from coming to the knowledge 
of what is good. But they were not able to effect it ; for 
we not only read them freely without fear, but offer them 
also to your perusal ; knowing that they will be found ac- 
ceptable to all." Clement of Alexandria likewise speaks 
of them as inspired by the same God who inspired the He- 
brew Prophets. 

Irenasus said he was told by those who had it from the 
Apostles themselves, that Enoch and Elijah were translated 
into that very Paradise from which Adam was expelled, to 
remain there till Christ came to judge the world ; and that 
it was the same place into which Paul was caught up. 
This idea prevailed among all the Fathers, who received it 
as apostolical doctrine, on the strength of tradition. Some 
supposed that the souls of deceased Christians waited there 
till the second coming of Christ. Cyprian seems to have 
entertained this opinion. Because Christ said of John : 
" What if I will that he tarry till I come ?■" some supposed 
that John did not die, but was taken up into the same 
Paradise, to wait with Elijah for the coming of the Lord ; 
and that they would both descend upon the earth to pre- 
pare the way before him, by preaching against Anti-Christ. 

Irenseus likewise declares that the Apostle John gave 
his disciple Papias the following description of the millen- 
nium, in the very words which he had received from Christ 
himself, and that Papias taught it to him : " The days shall 
come in which there shall grow vineyards, having each ten 
thousand stems ; each stem ten thousand branches ; each 
branch ten thousand shoots ; each shoot ten thousand 
bunches ; each bunch ten thousand grapes ; each grape will 
yield twenty-five measures of wine ; and when any of the 
saints shall go to pluck a bunch, another bunch will cry out, 
I am better. Take me, and bless the Lord for me. A grain 
of wheat will bear ten thousand stalks ; each stalk ten thou- 
sand grains ; each grain will make ten thousand pounds of 
the finest flour." Irenasus endeavours to sustain this by quo- 
tations from various Hebrew prophets, and from the Apoca- 


lypse of John. He maintains that it is not to be understood 
allegorically, but that it will be literally fulfilled in the 
earthly Jerusalem. All the descriptions of Canaan, as a 
land abounding with grapes, and "flowing with milk and 
honey," he applied to the reign of Christ on earth. He 
quotes the promise to Abraham : "All the land which thou 
seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. Walk 
through the land, in the length and the breadth of it; for 
I will give it unto thee." He says : " If an earthly Canaan 
was meant, this prophesy was never fulfilled ; since Abra- 
ham himself never owned a foot of land, and his posterity 
were always faithless or unhappy, and never possessed but 
a very small point of the habitable earth. Therefore, all 
the descriptions of fertility and delight must refer to the 
earth restored and renovated for the elect, who are to reign 
upon it with the Messiah at his second coming." 

The description, which Papias represented as coming 
from the mouth of Christ, was evidently borrowed from 
the Talmud ; but it was received, on his authority, as an 
Apostolic tradition, and generally adopted by the earl}'' 
Fathers. They did not, however, all take equally material 
views on the subject. Even Tertullian, though he luxu- 
riates in highly-coloured pictures of the millennial reign, 
admits that its highest happiness would consist in spiritual 
blessings. The spiritual-minded Origen zealously opposed 
the prevailing tendency to sensual views on this subject, 
by giving an allegorical interpretation to those texts which 
were generally thought to support it. He complains of 
some " slaves of the letter, whose imaginations revelled in 
a carnal resurrection and millennium, including eating, 
drinking, and marrying." On the contrary, Nepos, an 
Egyptian bishop, wrote a book in defence of the literal in- 
terpretation, from which he drew what he considered satis- 
factory proof of the earthly luxuries and delights that 
would characterize the Messiah's kingdom. This book 
was seized with avidity, and became a favourite study with 
polemical writers. But though the nature of the happiness 
in the millennial reign was a contested point, all believed 


in it, in some form or other ; all supposed that the straggle 
with Jewish and Gentile religions would continue till then ; 
all believed that Christ would come in person, and render 
his church triumphant on this earth ; and all had fall faith 
that the great event was nigh at hand. 

Christians of Gentile origin were prepared for the recep- 
tion of such a doctrine, by the ancient and universal idea 
concerning a Golden Age in the Future ; while Jewish con- 
verts brought with them into Christianity strong faith in 
similar predictions by the old Hebrew Prophets, which the 
Talmud overloaded with details. The near approach of the 
event was likewise sustained by preconceived opinions, 
both among Jews and Gentiles. In the reign of Augustus, 
there was a general idea prevailing that the Golden Age 
described by so many poets, and predicted in the Sacred 
Books of so many nations, was about to be realized. Ta- 
citus and Suetonius both allude to a prediction, vaguely 
purporting to come from Sacred Books, that the East should 
prevail, and that those who should come out of Judea 
would possess the world. Both those historians considered 
the prophecy fulfilled by Yespasian, who was chosen em- 
peror while he was in Judea, a few years after the death of 
Christ, when the empire of Eome comprised nearly all the 
civilized world. Josephus, the Jewish historian, main- 
tained the same idea ; but Christians applied it to the birth 
of Jesus, which occurred when the prophecy was generally 
believed to be near its fulfilment ; a coincidence calculated 
to make a strong impression on Greek and Poman con- 
verts. The Jews commonly considered the creation of the 
world a type of its duration. The Psalmist says, u a thou- 
sand years are with God as one day ;" and, therefore, ac- 
cording to the usual mode of Rabbinical interpretation, they 
concluded that the six days of creation indicated six thou- 
sand years of earthly labour and suffering, and that the fol- 
lowing day of rest was a type of the one thousand years 
the Messiah would reign on earth. They had a tradition 
that a prophecy to that effect had been uttered by Elijah. 
Christians of the first centuries were acquainted with the 


Old Testament only through the medium of the Greek 
translation called the Septuagint. In that version, the cre- 
ation was dated two thousand years further back than it 
was in the Hebrew versions. Consequently, the Fathers 
computed that nearly six thousand years had elapsed be- 
tween the creation of the world and the birth of Christ : 
thence they came to the conclusion that the end of all things 
was at hand. Corroborations of this opinion were brought 
from Daniel, and Matthew, and Peter, and Paul, and the 
mysterious predictions of the Apocalypse. It was sup- 
posed that human misery would be at its height just before 
this glorious period ; therefore, every war, famine, pesti- 
lence, earthquake, or eclipse, was regarded as a precursor 
of the great event, and was used as a text to urge men to 
prepare themselves for a place in the Messiah's kingdom. 

The resurrection of the body was absolutely necessary 
for the enjoyment of such a kingdom as Christ was gene- 
rally expected to establish at Jerusalem. The old Jewish 
idea had confined it to their nation only ; but when Christ- 
ians found numerous proselytes among the Grentiles, they 
taught that all the faithful followers of Christ would 
share the glory and bliss of his earthly reign, from which 
those who remained Jews would be excluded. A day of 
universal resurrection is described in the Persian Zend- 
Avesta; but nothing similar to it occurs in the Hebrew 
Sacred Books. In the latter times ISTachmanides, a Jewish 
Rabbi, taught that there would be two resurrections from the 
dead ; one a special resurrection, for those who were to live 
again on the earth during the reign of the Messiah ; an- 
other general resurrection, at the end of the thousand years, 
when the whole world would rise to receive final judgment. 
This idea of a universal resurrection does not appear to 
have passed into general belief until after the time of 
Christ. In the Book of Revelations, the Martyrs and 
Saints are described as descending from heaven with Christ, 
and reigning with him for a thousand years; "but the 
rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years 
were finished. This is the first resurrection." Then an- 
Vol. II.— 28* 


other resurrection is described in which all the dead stand 
before God, and are judged out of the. Book of Life. 

This idea of a first and second resurrection was univer- 
sally received by the Christian Fathers ; and the thousand 
years with Christ on earth were supposed to be a prepara- 
tion for a higher state of spiritual perfection and enjoy- 
ment in realms above. Many of them entertained another 
idea which seems to have grown out of some admixture 
with the Cabalistic notions concerning Adam Kadman, or 
the First Adam, who was to appear again on earth as the 
Messiah, or second Adam. They supposed that before the 
Fall, the body of Adam was immortal as well as his soul ; 
that if he had not eaten of the forbidden fruit, death would not 
have been introduced into the world ; that in consequence 
of his disobedience, the souls as well as the bodies of all 
the human race became subject to death ; that it was 
necessary for the Logos to assume a human form in order 
to restore immortality ; and without his intervention, all 
mankind must have remained forever in their graves. 
The circumstance of his resurrection was the ground on 
which they based their own hopes that their bodies would 
rise from the dead. They urged this doctrine more ear- 
nestly and prominently than any other; and among the 
numerous sects that arose none were so odious to the infant 
church, as those whose theories involved a denial of bodily 
resurrection. Origen manifested the usual tendencies of 
his mind on this subject. He made a distinction between 
the material body and the spiritual bod}* - . He did not 
think the covering of flesh would rise again ; but the in- 
terior substance lying at the foundation, of the body he 
supposed would be quickened at the resurrection, would 
unite with the soul, and receive additional glory from its 
perfected character. In every way, the Fathers manifested 
and taught undoubting faith on this subject. The general 
custom of wailing and mourning at funerals was entirely 
discountenanced by them. When pestilence swept away 
great numbers at Carthage, Cyprian said to his church : 
" We may long after them, as we do for those who have 


sailed on a distant voyage ; but we ought not to lament 
them ; since we know they are not lost, but merely sent 
before us. We may not put on dark robes of mourning 
here, when they above have already put on the white 
robes of glory. We, who abide in Christ, who through 
him and in him rise again, why do we not ourselves wish 
to depart out of this world ? Why are we not in haste to 
see our country and home, to greet our elders ? There 
await us a multitude of those whom we love ; fathers, 
brothers, and children, who are secure already of their own 
salvation, and concerned only for ours. What mutual j oy 
to them and to us, when we come to their embrace !" It 
was supposed that all except the Martyrs awaited the 
resurrection in some intermediate state, where they could 
be benefited by the prayers and oblations offered for them 
on earth. This belief formed a strong bond between the 
living and the dead. 

Many stories were in circulation at that time concerning 
a large bird with golden plumage, who, when he found 
himself near his end, built a funeral pyre and burned him- 
self, but immediately rose from his ashes, with renovated 
youth and beauty. This account of the Phoenix, which 
was probably an allegory, somehow connected with Egyp- 
tian worship, was often alluded to by Greek and Koman 
authors. The Christian Fathers, and many other people, 
believed there really was such a bird. Clement of Rome 
referred to it as a type and proof of the resurrection of 
the body. Later Fathers adduce the extraordinary habits 
of the Phoenix for the same purpose ; and some of them 
declare that God created that wonderful bird on purpose 
to refute the incredulity of the Gentiles on that subject. 

There was still greater facility in believing marvellous 
accounts from a Jewish source. It was a current tradition 
among the Jews, and is stated by Josephus, that before the 
Fall, animals could talk, and men could understand their 
language. In this way, they accounted for the conversa- 
tion between Eve and the serpent, which was supposed to 
have walked erect upon two legs, before the curse was 


pronounced upon him. These opinions were also enter* 
tained by the early Fathers. Whether Eve was created 
in Paradise, or out of it, was a subject of much contro- 
versy among them. All agreed that Adam was created 
out of it. Some inquired why woman, who was the 
less noble creature of the two, should have been created 
within Paradise ; others supposed the distinction was 
no more than a just tribute to the superior beauty and 
purity of woman. Whether Eve's sin was greater than 
Adam's was another controverted point. They generally 
inclined to the opinion that hers must have been less, 
because she was not created at the time of the prohibition, 
ajid therefore could not have heard it. Their construction 
of Scripture was sometimes exceedingly literal. Justin 
Martyr, in controversy with a Jew, endeavoured to prove 
that it could not have been Grod the Father who rained 
down fire and brimstone, because he could not have been 
in heaven at that time; it being declared in Grenesis that 
the Lord came down to inquire whether Sodom and Gro- 
morrah were as bad as they had been represented to him. 
Clement of Alexandria says : " A woman ought not to 
look in a mirror, because by making an image of herself 
she violates the commandment, which forbids making the 
likeness of anything in heaven above, or on the earth 
beneath." On the other hand there was an extreme ten- 
dency to allegorical interpretation. All the patriarchs 
were regarded as types of the Messiah, and all the Jewish 
rites as symbolical. These explanations seem to have been 
arbitrary with each individual ; not guided by any rules, 
or formed into any system. Justin Martyr says : " God 
by his grace revealed to me all that I know from the 
Scriptures." Appealing to certain Jews, with whom he 
was engaged in controversy, he says : " Do you think, O 
men, that I should have been able to understand these 
things in the Scriptures, if I had not received the grace to 
know them, by the will of Him who wills these things?" 
He explained the Tree of Life in Paradise, the miracu- 
lous rod of Moses, and the sticks that Jacob laid before 


Laban's cattle, as symbolical of the cross of Christ. Cle- 
ment of Rome says Eahab's hanging a scarlet thread 
from her window was typical of man's redemption by the 
blood of Christ. Irenaeus says those animals pronounced 
clean by the Mosaic Law, because they divide the hoof and 
chew the cud, were figurative of Christians, who believe 
in the Father and the Son, which is their double hoof; 
and because they meditate day and night on the laws of 
God, which is chewing the cud. Gentiles do neither, and 
are therefore unclean. Jews chew the cud, but do not 
divide the hoof, therefore they are unclean. 

But the literal interpretation was applied to Isaiah's 
prophecy, understood to refer to the Messiah; describing v 
him "with no form or comeliness: when we shall see him 
there is no beauty that we should desire him." Justin 
Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian took this 
for a description of Christ's personal appearance, and were 
accustomed to speak of him as "without form or comeli- 
ness." Tertullian, controverting with the Jews, says: 
" Christ was not even comely, or well proportioned. His 
body was neither of divine brightness, or human comeli- 
ness." Elsewhere, he speaks of "his unhonoured form, 
faulty above all men." Grecian and Roman writers, accus- 
tomed to conceive of radiant, ethereal deities, and to see 
them embodied in graceful and majestic statues, reproached 
Christians with maintaining a monstrous doctrine, in sup- 
posing that a Divine Spirit could enter a mean, ill-propor- 
tioned form. Origen, in reply, endeavoured to soften 
Isaiah's prediction, by saying it merely meant the absence 
of preeminent beauty. 

Although the reverential feeling was deep and sincere, 
the modes of expression were sometimes extremely homely 
and familiar. Mark having described the townsmen of 
Jesus as asking, "Is not this the carpenter?" the Fathers 
inferred therefrom that he worked with Joseph, at his 
trade, up to the time of his entrance upon his public min- 
istry. Justin Martyr says Jesus helped Joseph to make 
yokes and ploughs ; and an ancient author is quoted, who 


says in his time they still showed the yokes which he had 
made. In the early times of the church, there are no traces 
of adoration paid to the mother of Jesus. Irengeus, in some 
of his writings, draws a parallel between her and Eve, and 
supposes her to be in heaven, interceding with God for the 
fallen mother of mankind. Tertullian intimates that Mary 
was not convinced of the divine mission of her son ; that 
she partook of the incredulity which Luke ascribes to his 
relatives. He adds : " His mother is shown not to have 
adhered to him, when Martha, and the other Marys, were 
in frequent communication with him." 

Matthew calls Jesus the " first born" of Mary ; an ex- 
pression which implies that there were younger members 
of her family. He also records that when Jesus, after the 
commencement of his public ministry, returned to his own 
part of the country, and taught in the synagogue there, 
the people were astonished at his wisdom, and inquired : 
" Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called 
Mary ? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, 
and Judas, and his sisters, are they not all with us ?" Mark 
also describes his neighbours, on the same occasion, as ask- 
ing: u Is not this the carpenter? the son of Mary, the 
brother of James, and Joses, and Juda, and Simon ? And 
are not his sisters here with us ?" Paul also, when he de- 
scribes his visit to Jerusalem, speaks of " James the Lord's 
brother" as one of the chief apostles in the church there. 
Elsewhere, he alludes to Peter, and other apostles, "and 
the brethren of the Lord," as accompanied in their travels 
by " a wife, a sister." From this Scriptural testimony, the 
early Fathers inferred that Jesus was the eldest of several 
children. An early tradition, handed down by them, de- 
scribes James the Less, "brother of the Lord," as so nearly 
resembling him in form, features, and deportment, that 
"Mary herself, had she been capable of error, might have 
mistaken one for the other." It was said this exact like- 
ness made it necessary for Judas to designate Jesus by a 
kiss, when he betrayed him to his enemies. But after the 
doctrine of the incarnation of the Logos began to be promi- 


nent, it seems to have given rise to an idea that the dignity 
and purity of Mary, as Mother of the Word of God, would 
have been impaired by her having other children. Origen 
and Tertullian account for the mention of brothers and sis- 
ters, by supposing that Joseph was a widower, with chil- 
dren, at the time he. was married to Mary. 

Origen says : " In some things, philosophy agrees with 
the Law of God ; in others it is contrary to it. Many of 
the philosophers say there is One God, who made all things ; 
and some of them have added that God made and governs 
all things by his Logos," [Word]. Justin Martyr was the 
earliest among the Fathers who distinctly taught that Christ 
was the Logos. It was the general opinion among them 
that all the Apostles were ignorant of Christ's divinity, 
until after the Holy Ghost descended upon them at Pente- 
cost ; and that when they became aware of it, they made 
very slight allusions to it, as he himself had done, from pru- 
dential motives. Origen says: "The Jews thought Jesus 
was the son of Joseph and Mary; and they would not 
have believed him if he had said he was the son of Mary 
only." Concerning the Christian Scriptures, he says : 
" John alone introduced the knowledge of the eternity of 
Christ to the minds of the Fathers." "John was himself 
transformed into God, and so became partaker of the truth ; 
and then pronounced that the Word was in God from the 
beginning." " Since Christ lives in John, he says to Mary, 
concerning him, Behold thy son, Christ himself." 

The doctrine of the Logos was as yet in an unsettled 
state, and its inculcation involved the Fathers in many per- 
plexities. Jewish converts were extremely jealous of the 
unity of Jehovah, taught by the prophets of so many cen- 
turies. From the time of Socrates, the idea of One God 
had also been gaining ground among the more reflecting 
class of Grecian and Roman minds. Christian teachers, in 
their efforts to convert polytheistic worshippers, urged that 
doctrine more earnestly than any other ; constantly assert- 
ing that it was impious to associate any companion with 
God, in the creation and government of the universe. 


Minutius Felix, who wrote in the year two hundred and 
thirty, proves that the idea had then taken strong hold of 
the popular mind. He says: "I listen to the common 
people when they raise their hands toward heaven. They 
say nothing but God ; God is great ; God is true ; if God 
wills." Tertullian and Cyprian express the same. It 
required some caution to teach the doctrine of the Logos, 
without shocking those who revered the Divine Unity, 
and at the same time to guard against the idea that Christ 
ought to be worshipped as Grod. The old emanation theo- 
ries, which pervaded nearly all religions and philosophies, 
taught that each successive emanation was inferior to the 
preceding. All religions which taught the existence of 
The Word, as a Great Primal Spirit, represented him as 
secondary to the Supreme. This idea of the subordination 
of the Logos was used by the early Fathers to quiet the 
uneasiness of those who were jealous concerning the unity 
of God ; and on the other hand to guard against the wor- 
ship of Christ as God. All the early Fathers taught that 
the Logos was inferior to God, employed by him as an 
agent in making and preserving the world. Origen says : 
* Care must be taken that no derivative being is the object 
/ of prayer ; no, not Christ himself; but only the God and 
Father of the universe, to whom our Saviour himself 
prayed, and taught us to pray." Tertullian says : " God 
was not always a Father or a Judge ; since he could not be 
a Father before he had a Son, nor a Judge before there was 
any sin ; and there was a time when the Son and sin were 
not." Again he says : " I may venture to assert that God, 
before the formation of the universe, was not absolutely 
alone ; as he then had reason within himself, and in reason 
speech, which he could make a second principle from him- 
self, by acting within himself." To explain the doctrine 
metaphorically, they said Christ was like a torch lighted at 
the fire : the torch was the same as the fire, but it did not 
diminish it. But this explanation brought upon them the 
charge of teaching a plurality of Gods ; for the people at 
once replied: "Then there are two separate fires." To 


avoid this appearance of duality, the teachers were obliged 
to be very careful not to use illustrations which implied 
separation between the Father and the Son. They com- 
pared Christ to a branch from a root ; a river from a spring ; 
a ray from the sun. Tertullian says: " As the branch is 
not separated from the root, the river from its fountain, or 
the ray from the sun, so the Word is not separated from 
God." "This ray of God, passing into a certain virgin, 
became flesh in her womb, and was born a man, mixed 
with God. The flesh, animated by the Spirit, was nour- 
ished, grew up, spoke, taught, operated, and was Christ." 
" I do not call the ray the sun, and thus make two suns ; 
but I say the sun and his beam are two things, and two 
species of one undivided substance." Notwithstanding 
these precautions, he complains that they were charged 
with not preserving the unity of God. He says: "The 
simple, the ignorant, and the unlearned, who are always 
the greater part of the body of Christians, because the Rule 
of Faith transfers the worship of many gods to One true 
God, imagine that this number and disposition of a Trinity 
is a division of the Unity. They therefore will have it that 
we are worshippers of two gods, and even of three gods ; 
but that they are worshippers of one God only." All the 
Fathers believed that the Logos frequently appeared in a 
visible human form to the patriarchs and prophets. 

Early controversies were not mingled with discussions 
concerning the Holy Ghost. The allusions to him are 
indefinite; as if the subject had not much occupied their 
thoughts. Origen represents him as subordinate to the 
Son ; and calls him " The source of all the gracious gifts 
proceeding from God, communicated through Christ ; the 
first begotten of the Father, through the Son." 

It was the general opinion that Christ was exempt from 
all human appetites and passions. On this subject, they 
seem to have made some approach to the old Hindoo idea, 
that the incarnations of their deities were mere appear- 
ances, or phantoms. Clement of Alexandria says: "It 
would be ridiculous to suppose that the body of our Lord 
Vol. II.— 29 p 


had need of food for nourishment. He did not eat on ac- 
count of his body, which was supported by a divine power ; 
but lest those who conversed with him should suspect that 
he was merely the appearance of a man." Origen says : 
" As he always remained the Logos, it was impossible for 
him to feel any suffering, of the body or the soul." Damas- 
cenas says : " As the sunbeams are not hurt, when a tree 
on which it shines is cut down, so neither was the divinity 
of Christ affected when his flesh suffered." 

It has been already stated that Jewish Cabalists taught 
that Adam Kadman contained within himself the types, or 
germs, of all succeeding existences; that some Jews be- 
lieved he had appeared as the earthly Adam, and would 
again appear in the person of the Messiah. Tertullian en- 
tertained an idea somewhat analogous concerning the pro- 
genitor of the human race, in the Garden of Eden. He 
supposed that Adam had within himself the undeveloped 
germ of all mankind ; that he was the fountain whence all 
human souls proceeded; that he was created capable of 
attaining to fellowship with Grod, and of inheriting immor- 
tality, without subjection to death ; but having sinned by 
refusing to submit his will to the will of his Creator, he 
became subject to a sinful nature, and to death; and as all 
souls were contained in him, all became corrupted by his 
sin. Tertullian is said to have been the first among the 
Christian Fathers who taught this theory of the propaga- 
tion of sin with souls. 

There is no record that the Apostles baptized any but 
adults ; but as early as the time of Irenaeus, it was common 
for both grown people and their children to share in the 
rite. Tertullian was strongly opposed to infant baptism, 
on the ground that the need of salvation ought to be felt 
before the ordinance was administered ; also that the remis- 
sion of sins would be more needed at a later age. It was 
supposed that the water possessed a certain mysterious 
sanctifying power, whereby it washed away the stain of 
Adam's sin, and at the same time imparted a participation 
in the nature of Christ : so that when infants were baptized, 


their human nature, while yet in the germ, was purified 
and protected from evil. Irenseus says: " As the parched 
earth cannot yield fruit without moisture, neither can we 
produce living fruit without the rain which is freely poured 
down from above ; . for through the Spirit our souls obtain 
communion with the imperishable Essence, and our bodies 
through baptism." There was a difference of opinion 
whether the rite should be administered to babes on the 
first, the third, or the eighth day after their birth. Some 
were in favour of the last, because it was the day on which 
Jesus was circumcised. But as Tertullian's doctrine con- 
cerning original sin gained ground in the church, it nat- 
urally suggested the idea that delay might be dangerous. 
Cyprian, in council with sixty-six bishops, decided in fa- 
vour of the first day. " By descent from Adam, they have 
brought with them the infection of the old death," said he; 
" and we must do everything in our power that no soul 
may be lost." Origen, with his usual tendency to rise above 
material views, considered baptism as a symbol of the in- 
ward cleansing of the soul by the action of divine truth ; 
though he thought that a sanctifying power was imparted 
to the water by the consecration pronounced over it. In 
the beginning, all Christians were regarded in the light of 
a priesthood dedicated to Jesus ; therefore, consecrated oil, 
and the imposition of hands, were used at baptism, as they 
were in the ordination of the clergy. The sign of the cross 
was always made on the forehead, and a portion of salt 
administered, over which a blessing had been pronounced. 
In some places, the baptized tasted of milk and honey, 
symbolical of the spiritual Canaan to which he now be- 
longed. In the days of the Apostles, it was merely neces- 
sary to signify belief in one Grod, and in Christ as the Mes- 
siah, in order to be baptized. But as converts increased, 
it was deemed necessary to prepare them by a course of 
previous instruction. During this period, they were 
called catechumens, from a Greek word meaning the cate- 
chised, or questioned. They were not allowed to be pres- 
• ent when the Lord's Supper was administered, or to repeat 


the Lord's prayer; because it was thought that only bap- 
tized lips were worthy to call God their Father. On the 
day of baptism, they wore white robes, symbolical of the 
spiritual purity to be obtained by the ceremony. It was 
performed by immersion in any lake, river, or pond, that 
was most convenient, and always in presence of the con- 
gregation. Those who were too ill to undergo this process, 
were sprinkled ; but some doubted whether they could be 
entirely penetrated by the Holy Spirit, unless the water 
covered them. In the second century, the form was very 
simple. The candidate merely renounced the pageantry of 
polytheistic worship, in the following terms; U I renounce 
the Devil, his pomp, and the worship of his Spirits ; and I 
am united to Christ. I believe in the resurrection of the 
dead." But after heretical sects increased, minute confes- 
sions of faith were drawn up, to guard against their errors. 
From the words of Christ, that a man could not enter the 
kingdom of God, unless he were "born of water and of the 
Spirit," it was inferred that no unbaptized person could be 
saved ; except a martyr, who was supposed to be baptized 
in his blood. The Fathers, while they taught these doc- 
trines zealously, strove to guard people against relying 
upon the mere external rite, by urging that faith was es- 
sential, in order to procure the promised benefits ; but the 
populace were prone to attach a sort of magical virtue to 
the ceremony ; deeming that by a sudden, mysterious pro- 
cess, it purified the body and regenerated the soul, and thus 
prepared them to become temples of the Lord by partici- 
pation of the holy eucharist. 

Irregularities, similar to those which Paul rebuked in 
the church at Corinth, early occasioned a separation be- 
tween the Lord's Supper and the social meal with which it 
was at first connected. Members of the church gave the 
bread and wine to be used on the occasion, and this was 
regarded as a thank-offering to the Lord. Justin Martyr 
says : " The prayers and thanksgivings offered by worthy 
men are the only true sacrifices, well pleasing to God ; and 
these alone have the Christians learned to offer." Irenasua 


says: "It is not the offering that sanctifies the man; but 
if his conscience be pure, that sanctifies the offering, and 
induces God to receive it, as from a friend." Because 
Christ said, " Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, 
and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," it was infer- 
red that no person could be saved, unless he partook of 
the eucharist. The idea prevailed that Christ himself was 
infused into the participant; and it being the universal 
belief that all men must have remained in their graves, if 
the Logos had not taken a human form, and triumphed 
over death, this intimate union with him was deemed es- 
sential to secure a part in his resurrection. Ignatius calls 
the consecrated bread and wine, "an antidote against death, 
a medicine of immortality, enabling us to live forever in 
Jesus Christ." Alluding to certain sects, who abstained 
from the Lord's Supper, he says : " It were better for them 
to receive it, that through it they might one day rise 
again." Out of this view of the subject grew the general 
custom of administering it to infants. In some places, a 
daily participation of it was regarded as necessary to pre- 
serve a perpetual bond of union between Christ and the 
soul. After the morning devotions, every Christian, be- 
fore he went to his usual avocations, partook of it with his 
family. Deacons carried it to those who were sick, or in 
prison. Sailors and travellers took it with them, lest they 
should die at a distance from the church, without partak- 
ing of the divine elements. It was used at the ordination 
of the clergy, at the conclusion of the marriage ceremony, 
and at solemnities in honour of the dead. In Tertullian's 
time, it had become customary for communicants to carry 
home portions of the consecrated bread, and lock it up in 
boxes for private use. The wine they were afraid to take ; 
because if they spilled a drop of it, they regarded it the 
same as spilling the blood of Christ. As the Logos entered 
into a human body, and was sacrificed for the sins of man- 
kind, so it was supposed that he each time entered into the 
bread and wine that represented his body, and was sacri- 
ficed anew. The language of Irenseus implies that this 
Vol. II.— 29* 


was symbolical ; but in process of time, it came to be rep- 
resented as an actual sacrifice. Justin Martyr says: "We 
eat this not as common bread, and drink this not as com- 
mon wine. But, as Jesus Christ, after having been made 
man, by the Logos of God, had flesh and blood, so we believe 
also that the food consecrated by his words has become the 
flesh and blood of the man Jesus." Origen says: "You 
who are allowed to partake in the Holy Mysteries, know 
how to keep, with all caution and care, the body of the 
Lord, which you receive, lest any part of the hallowed gift 
fall to the ground. You believe justly that you would 
bring guilt upon yourselves, if by negligence you dropped 
any part of it." Tertullian speaks of "feeding on the fat- 
ness of the Lord's body;" and of "our flesh feeding on the 
body and blood of Christ, in order that the soul may be 
fattened of God." Cyprian says : " The sacrifice of the 
body of Christ is always offered up for the Martyrs at their 
annual Festival." This doctrine is supposed by some to 
have occasioned the charge against Christians of eating 
human flesh. It was not discussed or explained before 
catechumens, but was reserved as a great mystery for the 
initiated. Clement of Alexandria quotes the words of 
Paul: "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even 
the hidden mystery ;" and adds : " The Apostle here ob- 
serves the prophetic and truly ancient concealment, whence 
the Grecian philosophers derived their excellent doctrines." 
Tertullian representing what would be the consequences if 
Christian widows should be induced to marry men of an- 
other religion, says : " You would thereby fall into this 
fault, that they would come to the knowledge of our Mys- 
teries. For would not your husband know what you taste 
in secret, before eating any other food? And if he found 
it was bread, would he not imagine it was what is so much 
spoken of?" Spiritual communion with Christ was the 
idea most prominently urged. Origen considered the ex- 
ternal rite as symbolical of the internal communication of 
the Divine Word, the true heavenly bread of the soul. 
Ha said all could partake of the outward supper, but only 


the worthy recipient could receive the spiritual food, of 
which Christ said : " He that eateth of this bread shall live 
forever." But, in general, the external idea prevailed over 
the internal ; and a certain supernatural power, resembling 
talismans and charms, was generally supposed to be im- 
parted to the bread, by the ceremony of consecration. It 
was believed to have power to avert danger, and to expel 
devils from men and from haunted houses. Cyprian ex- 
pressly teaches that no secrets could be hidden from it ; an 
idea which was truly awful to delinquents belonging to the 
church. He tells of a man who, at some of the popular 
Festivals, had partaken of a banquet in honour of the gods, 
and afterward ventured to take a piece of the consecrated 
bread ; but before he could convey the holy morsel to his 
polluted mouth, it turned to a living coal in his hand. He 
also tells of a woman who, having committed a similar of- 
fence, went to her private box to take a piece of the sacred 
bread, according to her daily custom ; but flames burst 
forth, and prevented her. 

As soon as a church was formed, it was necessary to ap- 
point Presbyters or Elders, to preserve order ; from this it 
naturally grew that the Presbyters of churches in large 
towns would take the lead at meetings to arrange the 
ecclesiastical affairs of a whole province. To these pre- 
siding elders was applied the Greek word Episcopus, mean- 
ing an Overseer or President ; in English Bishop. Far into 
the second century, the terms Presbyter and Bishop were 
indiscriminately applied, and interchanged for each other. 
Tertullian frequently calls all who presided in Christian 
communities, whether Bishops or Presbyters, by the com- 
mon title of Elders. But gradually the distinction of ranks 
in the church became more definitely marked. Cyprian 
went further on this subject than his predecessors had 
done ; being probably urged thereto by the frequency of 
troublesome schisms. He declared that Christ communi- 
cated the Holy Ghost to his disciples ; that the Apostles, 
by laying on their hands, communicated it to those whom 
•they appointed to preside over Christian communities; 


that these ordained bishops, by imposition of hands, im* 
parted to their successors the holy gift they had received ; 
and in this manner a perfect transmission of the Holy 
Ghost had continued, and would continue. Therefore, in 
all controversies, he maintained that there should be no 
appeal from the decision of the Bishop ; that his authority 
was inviolable; and that whoever disputed it, impiously 
presumed to judge over the judgment of God and Christ. 
Consequently, all sects, or individuals, who separated them- 
selves from the bishop, became thereby separated from 
Christ, and were deprived of the guidance of the Holy 
Ghost. He declared that he heard a Divine Voice saying 
to him: " He who believes not Christ, who appoints the 
priest, will be compelled to believe him when he avenges 
the priest." He habitually consulted with his presbyters 
concerning church affairs, and apologized when he departed 
from this rule. But on some occasions, he professed to re- 
ceive immediate guidance from Heaven. Having ordained 
a reader, without calling his church together, as usual, to 
decide upon his fitness for the office, he said he did it by 
u a divine admonition." To a member who absented him- 
self from the communion, and to certain priests, who ab- 
solved delinquents without authority from him, he said : 
" If you do not change your course, I will execute against 
you what I have been ordered to do." But though Cyprian 
took such high ground, he claimed for Christian communi- 
ties the supreme right of deposing an unworthy bishop. 
As presbyters had been chosen by votes of the church, so 
bishops long continued to be elected by popular suffrage. 
Instances of it are recorded as late as the beginning of the 
fifth century. 

It was natural that in cases of controversy concerning 
doctrine or discipline, reference should be made to the 
oldest churches ; especially those that were believed to be 
established by the Apostles. Irenaeus says : " If a dispute 
should arise about any matter, though but of little moment, 
ought we not to have recourse to the most ancient churches, 
in which the Apostles resided, and receive from them what 


is certain and clear about the point in question ?" Tertul- 
lian declared : " To know what the Apostles taught, that is, 
what Christ revealed to them, recourse must be had to the 
churches which they founded, and which they instructed, 
either by word of mouth, or by their epistles." "That is 
the true faith, which is the most ancient ; and that is a cor- 
ruption, which is modern." " We must not appeal to the 
Scriptures, or trust the merits of the cause with them ; in 
which case there can be no victory, or an uncertain one." 

The church at Jerusalem, founded forty days after the 
crucifixion, was said to have been guided by "James, the 
Lord's brother." It was therefore naturally regarded as the 
venerable Mother Church. It was consulted concerning 
the earliest difficulties that occurred, and was assisted by 
contributions from other communities. The church at 
Antioch was said to have been founded by Peter, the 
church at Ephesus by John, and the church at Alexandria 
by Mark. The only church in the West that claimed an 
apostolic foundation was that of Eome. She laid claim to 
two Apostles, and those the most renowned : Peter and 
Paul. Such was the tradition, even in the time of Irenseus, 
who speaks of it as " the church founded by the two most 
illustrious Apostles, and the most universally known." 
This assertion is not founded on any Scriptural account; 
on the contrary, evidence from that source seems rather 
against it. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, says: 
" I thank my Grod for you all, that your faith is spoken of 
throughout the whole world ;" and he adds that he had 
often purposed to go to Rome, but had hitherto been hin- 
dered ; from which it is evident that a church was estab- 
lished and widely known, before he visited that city. As 
early as the reign of Claudius, about twenty years after the 
death of Christ, it had excited so much animosity among 
the Jewish population of Rome, and occasioned so many 
tumults, that the government expelled both parties from 
the city. The Scriptures show that Paul resided some 
time in Rome, and that he probably died there ; but in the 
•epistles which he wrote from that place, he gives no indi- 



cation that Peter was with him, or had been with him ; nor 
do the Scriptures anywhere state that Peter was ever in 
Pome. The church at Jerusalem early appointed him to 
go to "those of the circumcision." His epistles are ad- 
dressed to Asiatic churches, and he appears to write from 
Babylon, where Jews were numerous. But the tradition 
that he founded the church at Pome was universally be- 
lieved by the Fathers, who reconciled it with Scripture by 
supposing that by Babylon he intended to designate Pome, 
on account of its wealth and licentiousness. On the 
strength of the tradition that they both suffered martyr- 
dom in Pome, a magnificent tomb was erected to Peter in 
the Yatican, where Nero's gardens were situated, the scene 
of the first persecution; and another to Paul on the Ostian 
Poad, near the city, where he was said to have been be- 
headed. Many other causes combined to render the church 
at Pome more prominent than any other. It was situated 
in the far-famed metropolis of the world, and was the great 
central point for the propagation of Christianity in the 
West. It was superior in wealth, and was very liberal in 
donations to other churches. It was early applied to for 
advice in cases of controversy. When disputes arose in 
the church at Corinth, they appealed to Clement of Rome, 
who, according to Tertullian, was ordained by the Apostle 
Peter. He wrote Epistles to the Corinthians, in which he 
.calls their schism "a most foul and unholy sedition." This 
is the first instance of selecting the Bishop of Pome as 
umpire. There is a passage imputed to Irenseus, but found 
only in the form of a translation, in which he declares : "It 
is necessary the whole church, that is, believers every- 
where, should hold to that church on account of its great 
superiority ; for the apostolic tradition has been preserved 
in that church." In the year one hundred and ninety the 
Bishop of Pome excommunicated the churches of Asia 
Minor, for keeping Easter on the day of the Jewish Pass- 
over ; but Irenaeus openly rebuked him for that proceeding. 
Cyprian says : "Peter, whom God elected, and on whom he 
built his church, did not arrogantly assume to hold tho 


primacy, and presumptuously claim that he ought by pre- 
ference to be obeyed." In another place, he says: "Each 
of the other Apostles was the same as Peter was ; endowed 
with an equal share of honour and authority. But a be- 
ginning must proceed from unity; and the primacy is 
given to Peter, that one church of Christ, and one see, 
might be manifested." He urged the Bishop of Pome to 
" defend, against all schismatics, the unity of the church, 
founded on the union of bishops." He, however, asserted 
the right of individual bishops to manage the affairs of 
their own churches ; and he strenuously maintained that 
right, in the face of opposition from Pome. But this spirit 
of independence gradually grew weaker, in the course of 
multifarious disputes, which seemed to render an infallible 
arbiter indispensable. Before the end of the third century, 
Christian churches agreed in acknowledging the Bishops 
of Pome lineal heirs of Peter, whom Christ had invested 
with authority to feed his sheep. 

The discipline of the church was very strict. A religious 
atmosphere pervaded all the domestic and social relations. 
Bishops, deacons, and deaconesses, were summoned to add 
their sanction to marriage. The bride and bridegroom 
presented offerings to the church, partook of the eucharist, 
and received a benediction. Tertullian expresses the gen- 
eral Christian feeling where he says: •■ What language can 
express the happiness of that marriage which is concluded 
by the church, sealed by the communion, and consecrated 
by the benediction : which the angels announce, and God 
the Father ratifies?" The strictest morality was enjo'ined, 
and any deviations from it were punished according to the 
knowledge and experience of the delinquent. Thus the 
same fault was judged more severely in a bishop or pres- 
byter, than it was in the deacon ; and more allowance was 
made for the catechumens than for the baptized. Origen 
writes: "The Christians sorrow over those who have been 
overcome by lust, or any other noticeable vice, as if they 
were dead. After a long period, if they have given proof 
of a change of heart, they receive them once more to the 


standing of catechumens, as those risen from the dead/'' 
Tertullian says: " Inward compunction of conscience should 
be manifested also by outward acts. They should fast and 
pray for forgiveness, express sorrow by their whole deport- 
ment, present a confession of their sins before the whole 
community, request the prayers of all the Christian breth- 
ren, and especially humble themselves before the presby- 
ters, and the known friends of God." Some maintained 
that the church had no right to absolve a sinner, who had 
trifled away the pardon obtained for him by Christ, and 
appropriated by him at baptism ; that the sins spoken of 
in the Gospel as forgiven were committed before baptism ; 
that God, in the plenitude of his mercy, might doubtless 
forgive them, but the church had no right to do it. On 
the other hand it was urged that they were the very ones 
who required the aid of the church ; that they who were 
well needed not a physician, but they who were sick. 

"Whoever carried on any trade contrary to generally 
received Christian principles, was not baptized till he had 
pledged himself to lay it aside. Astrology and magic, 
which were at that time very lucrative, were forbidden. 
Sculpture was also prohibited, because it was principally 
employed on images of the gods. To those sculptors who 
excused themselves by saying they considered their works 
objects of Art, not of religion, Tertullian exclaimed indig- 
nantly: "Assuredly you are a worshipper of idols, when 
you help to promote their worship. It is true you bring 
to them no outward victim, but you sacrifice your mind to 
them ; your sweat is their drink-offering ; you kindle for 
them the light of your skill. How can you be said to have 
renounced the Devil and all his Spirits, if you make im- 
ages of them ? It is not enough to say, I do not worship 
them ; for thou dost so far worship them, in that thou mak- 
est them for others to worship." All who were connected 
with the circus, or the theatre, were excluded from com- 
munion ; as were also those who frequented such scenes. 
Tertullian wrote a book exhorting Christians not to be 
tempted into such places. He says: "An example hap- 


pened, as the Lord is witness, of a woman who went to the 
theatre, and came back with a Devil in her. When the 
unclean Spirit was urged and threatened, in the office of 
exorcising, for having dared to attack a Christian, he re- 
plied : ' I did merely what was fitting and just ; for I found 
her upon my own ground.' " In the same book he tells of 
a woman who having witnessed a tragedy at the theatre, 
dreamed in the night that somebody showed her a winding- 
sheet, and reproached her for what she had done ; and five 
days after that, she died. The dress of actors was very of- 
fensive to him. He was particularly displeased with their 
high buskins, which he regarded as a violation of Scripture ; 
inasmuch as they sought thereby to add a cubit to their 
stature. An actor, who became a Christian, attempted to 
earn a living by instructing boys in the art he had left. 
Cyprian, being asked whether he could remain in com- 
munion with the church, declared thus strongly against it : 
"If in Deuteronomy a curse is pronounced on him who 
puts on the garment of a woman, how much more crimi- 
nal must it be to form a man to effeminate and unseemly 
gestures, by an immodest art ; to falsify the image of God 
by tricks of the Devil ? If the church where he resides is 
too poor to support him, let him come to Carthage, where 
he will be supplied with what is necessary for food and 
clothing ; provided he does not teach what is pernicious 
out of the church, but himself learns within the church 
what tends to salvation. He must not, however, suppose 
that he is to be hired to leave off sinning, since he does it 
not for our sakes, but forihis own." 

The cruel contests between gladiators and wild beasts, 
in which the Eoman populace took a savage delight, were 
held in the greatest abhorrence by Christians, and were 
earnestly rebuked by their public teachers, as"a custom 
which turned murder into an art, and taught it as a profes- 
sion." Tertullian, whose style partook of the general heat 
and severity of his character, draws the following terrible 
picture, while reproving the people of Carthage for their 
love of games and public shows: "What a Spectacle is at 
Vol. II.— 30 


hand in the Advent of the Lord ! doubted, humbled, with* 
held from triumph no longer 1 What joy among the an* 
gels ! What glory for the saints rising to life ! What a king- 
dom for the just forevermore ! What a city in the New 
Jerusalem ! It will not be without its Games. It will have 
the final and eternal Day of Judgment, which the Gentiles 
now treat with unbelief and scorn ; when so vast a series 
of ages, with all their productions, will be hurled into one 
absorbing fire. How magnificent the scale of that Game ! 
With what admiration, what laughter, what glee, what 
triumph, shall I perceive so many mighty emperors, who 
had been represented as received up into the skies, even 
Jupiter himself, and his votaries, moaning in unfathomable 
gloom. The Governors, too, persecutors of the Christians, 
liquifying amid shooting spires of flame, in fiercer torments 
than they had ever devised against the faithful. And those 
sage philosophers, who had deprived the Deity of his offices, 
and questioned the existence of a soul, or denied its future 
union with the body, meeting again with their disciples, 
only to blush before them in those ruddy fires. Not to 
forget the poets, trembling at the unexpected bar of Christ, 
not before the tribunal of Ehadamanthus, or Minos. Then 
will be the time to hear the tragedians, doubly pathetic, 
since they bewail their own agonies ; to observe the actors, 
released by the fierce element from all restraint upon their 
gestures ; to admire the charioteer glowing all over on the 
car of torture ; to watch the wrestlers, thrust into the strug- 
gle of the flames, instead of the gymnasium. But even 
this Spectacle I shall forego, to revel, with insatiable gaze, 
at the dismay of the Lord's own persecutors. Here he is ! 
I shall say. Here is the carpenter's son; the Sabbath- 
breaker; the Samaritan; the possessed of the Devil ! Here 
is he whose life you purchased from Judas ; he whom you 
buffeted and scourged, and spit upon, and presented with 
vinegar and gall. Here is he whose body was removed by 
his disciples to support the tale of a resurrection ; or b}^ the 
gardener, anxious lest his lettuces should be hurt by the 
trampling of visitors. What Praetor, Consul, or Priest, by 


his munificence, can purchase for you a Game of triumph 
like unto this ? Yet we, by the imaginative power of faith, 
can enjoy a foretaste of it already. And what must we 
say of those reserved felicities, which eye hath not seen, 
nor ear heard, and it hath never entered the heart of man 
to conceive ? I flatter myself they will be more grateful 
than the Circus, or the Stadium, or the stage-box itself." 

The Fathers not only censured amusements, but all arti- 
cles of luxury, such as gay garments, white bread, foreign 
wines, silver utensils, or warm baths. Though a very large 
majority of Christians belonged to the poor and the mid- 
dling classes, yet even as early as the time of Clement of 
Alexandria, he found it necessary to rebuke the extrava- 
gance of those who wore embroidered dresses, rode in 
gilded chariots, and used vessels of silver and gold ; of 
men, who had a multitude of slaves ; of ladies, who kept 
peacocks from Media, birds and monkeys from India, and 
dogs from Malta, instead of maintaining poor widows and 
orphans. He compares richly dressed women to Egyptian 
temples. " Outwardly, those edifices are magnificent and 
splendid ; surrounded by groves, enclosed by stately pil- 
lars ; the walls curiously carved, garnished with gold and 
precious stones ; but when you inquire for the deity there 
worshipped, you shall be gravely showed, behind a curtain, 
a cat, or a serpent, or some other ill-favoured beast." He 
says it is allowable to have some difference in garments, 
according to the age, shape, and employments of men. He 
even admits that "women who cannot otherwise keep the 
affections of their husbands, may go a little more neat and 
trim, if their lords require it ; provided it be done solely for 
the purpose of pleasing them." Tertullian says: "Beauty 
is such a useless thing, it ought to be despised by those 
who have it not, and neglected by those who have it." 
He recommends women to seek the crown of martyrdom, 
as the only' ornament for their heads. 

The almost universal prevalence of the idea that Matter 
was the origin of evil, has been abundantly shown in the 
preceding pages ; also, that Matter was considered a femi- 


nine principle, and that Spirits were attracted downward 
into union with it, whereby visible forms were produced. 
Abstract ideas often become very material, and even gross, 
by passing through generations of minds. It, therefore, 
seems to me not unlikely that from these premises grew 
the idea presented in the Sacred Books of several religions, 
that the First Mother introduced sin into the world, by 
enticing the First Father. Whatever might be the source, 
it was a common opinion among the Jews, and was uni- 
versally entertained by the Christian Fathers, that Adam 
being tempted to union with Eve caused the fall of man ; 
though the command to "increase and multiply" was ex- 
pressly given by God himself, before the fall. This 
Jewish doctrine concerning our first parents combined 
very easily with the oriental idea, every where promul- 
gated by East India devotees, and Egyptian ascetics, that 
marriage was an impediment in the path of holiness. 
Among the primitive Christians were some who thought 
it a duty to live unmarried, in order to devote themselves 
more completely to God. Athenagoras, cotemporary with 
Irenaeus, says : " There are among us both men and wo- 
men, who have grown old in celibacy, with the hope of a 
closer union with God." They supported themselves by 
labour, and all that remained of their earnings, after their 
very simple wants were supplied, was given to the poor. 
Women who thus consecrated themselves, were distin- 
guished by the appellation of virgins ; the men were styled 
ascetics. They lived with Christian families, or in houses 
by themselves, were diligent in various trades and profes- 
sions, and sold the proceeds of their industry to whoever 
wished to purchase. Some few, who resembled Hindoo 
devotees in extreme mortification of the body, appear to 
have considered this traffic with the world irreligious. 
That such existed in the time of Irenaeus, and were not 
approved by him, is implied by the following remark: 
" If these things are imputed to you by one who has sepa- 
rated himself from Gentile communities, and lives naked 
and barefoot in the mountains, feeding on herbs, like ani- 


rnals, lie should be pardoned, because lie does not rightly 
understand what Christian life ought to be." Clement of 
Alexandria objected to celibacy, as calculated to produce 
misanthropy. He notices the fact that in various polythe- 
istic religions, the priests were required to refrain from 
marriage, wine, and animal food. He speaks, also, of rigid 
ascetics in India; and argues that customs existing in 
those religions, certainly had no claim to be considered 
peculiarly Christian. He adds: "As humility is shown 
not by castigation of the body, but by gentleness of dispo- 
sition, so, also, abstinence is a virtue of the soul, not con- 
sisting in that which is without, but in that which is within 
the man. Abstinence does not refer to pleasure only. It 
is also abstinence to despise money, to tame the tongue, 
and to obtain dominion over sin by the exercise of reason." 
He commends marriage as follows: "The genuine Chris- 
tian has the Apostles for an example. In truth, it is not 
in solitary life that one shows himself a man. He is 
superior to other men, who withstands all the tempta- 
tions that assail him in providing for wife and children, 
servants and substance, without allowing himself to be 
turned from the love of God. The man with no family 
escapes many temptations; but as he has none save him- 
self to care for, he is of less worth than the man who 
accomplishes more in social life, though he has more to 
disturb him in the work of his own salvation ; who, in 
truth, presents in himself a miniature of Providence." 
Describing a Christian matron, he says : " The mother is 
the glory of her children ; the wife is the glory of her hus- 
band ; both are the glory of the wife ; and God is the glory 
of them all." Tertullian, who was a married man, still 
more warmly contests the oriental ideas, as "contrary to 
the commands of God, who blessed marriage, and ordained 
the increase of the human race." He says: "What a 
union is that between two believers, having in common 
one hope, one desire, one order of life, one service of the 
Lord. Like brother and sister, undivided in spirit or 
body, they kneel, pray, and fast together, mutually teach, 
Vol. II.— 30* 


exhort, and bear with each other. They are not separated 
in the church of God, and at the Lord's Supper. They 
share each other's persecutions, troubles, and joys. 
Neither avoids the other; neither has any thing to hide 
from the other. There is freedom to visit the sick, and to 
sustain the needy. The harmony of psalms and hymns 
goes up between them. Christ rejoices to behold and hear 
such things, and sends them his peace. Where there are 
two, there he is also ; and where he is, the Spirit of Evil 
can not enter." He was, however, violent in his denun- 
ciations against second marriages, which were in general 
disrepute among the Christians, and considered a sufficient 
objection to admitting a man into the priesthood. 

Christians long observed the Jewish custom of offering 
prayers at the third, sixth, and ninth hours of the day, 
dating from six in the morning : that is, at nine o'clock, at 
twelve, and at three in the afternoon. They also prayed 
in preparation for all the principal transactions of life. 
They usually knelt at their devotions ; but on Sunday all 
the congregation stood up, in commemoration of Christ's 
rising from the dead. It was customary to turn toward 
the East when they prayed ; in support of which the 
Fathers quote the example of the Apostles. They assign 
various reasons for it. Among others, they say: "The 
Apostles thereby paid respect to Paradise, which God 
planted in the East ; begging of Him that they might be 
restored to that ancient country, from which Adam was 
cast out." There are, however, reasons more obvious. 
Temples usually faced the East, because the worship of the 
Sun was intimately connected with nearly all religions. 
Therefore Gentile converts would have been likely to have 
formed the habit in childhood of turning toward the East 
to pray. Jews, who were absent from their Holy City al- 
ways turned toward it, when they performed their devo- 
tions. Antioch, Ephesus, Alexandria, and Rome, where 
the earliest Christian churches were established, were all 
west of Jerusalem ; and Jewish converts in those places 
would naturally carry their old custom into Christianity. 


This circumstance, combined with the observance of the 
first day of the week, led many people to suppose that 
Christians were worshippers of the Sun ; for the first day 
was called by Komans, Dies Solis, The Sun's Day ; because 
ceremonies were then performed in honour of the Spirit of 
that luminary, in the rotation of the worship of the Spirits 
of the Seven Planets. In the Eastern churches, the Jew- 
ish Sabbath, on Saturday, was strictly observed, by absti- 
nence from labour. On that day, as well as on Sunday, a 
meeting was held, a sermon delivered, the Scriptures read, 
and the Lord's Supper administered. They stood up 
during prayer, on both days, and never fasted on either of 
them. The case was otherwise with communities which 
had always been chiefly composed of Gentile Christians. 
In Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho, the Jew re- 
proaches Christians for not keeping the Sabbath, [Satur- 
day.] Justin admits the charge, by replying: "Do you 
not see that the elements keep no Sabbaths, and are never 
idle? Continue as you were created. If there was no 
need of circumcision before Abraham's time, and no need of 
the Sabbath, of festivals, and oblations, before the time of 
Moses, neither of them are necessary after the coming of 
Christ. If any among you is guilty of perjury, fraud, or 
other crimes, let him cease from them and repent, and he will 
have kept the kind of Sabbath pleasing to God." This dif- 
ference of customs occasioned some controversy when mem- 
bers of Eastern churches spent a Sabbath with any of their 
brethren in the West. Of those who advocated the East- 
ern practice, Tertullian said, with more moderation than 
he usually manifested : " The Lord will bestow his grace, 
so that they will either yield, or else follow their own 
opinion without giving offence to others." Every Wed- 
nesday and Friday, Christians of all churches had meet- 
ings for prayer, and fasted till three o'clock in the after- 
noon. This was done in commemoration of the betrayal 
of Christ by Judas, and of his crucifixion ; as Sunday was 
joyfully observed in memory of his resurrection. These 
existed as customs, long before they were established as 


rules. Tertullian is the first writer who manifests a ten- 
dency to transfer to Sunday the strict observances of the 
Jewish Sabbath. Speaking of kneeling, he says : "On 
the day of the Lord's resurrection, we ought not only to 
refrain from that, but from all anxious habits and duties, 
deferring even business, so that we may give no place to 
the Devil." 

The Fathers have much to say concerning the duty and 
efficacy of prayer. Tertullian says : "It behooves the 
faithful neither to take food, or enter a bath without 
prayer ; for the nourishing and refreshing of the spirit 
should have precedence of nourishing and refreshing the 
body." Clement of Alexandria says : " If I may speak so 
boldly, prayer is intercourse with God. Though we do 
but lisp, though we address God without opening the lips, 
we cry to him from the inward recesses of the heart ; for 
when the whole direction of the inmost soul is toward 
God, he always hears." Origen says : " He prays without 
ceasing, who suitably unites prayer with action ; for active 
duty is an integrant part of prayer. The whole life should 
express, ' Our Father, who art in heaven.' " It was sup- 
posed that attendant angels always stood ready to carry 
up to heaven every sincere prayer. Tertullian urged it as 
proper respect to these mediators, that the congregation 
should not be in haste to be seated after prayer, before the 
angel had departed with their supplications. They be- 
lieved that every human being had a guardian angel, who 
sought to protect them, and was grieved when he sinned. 
The ministry of Spirits, good and evil, contending for the 
souls and bodies of men, was as conspicuous in their teach- 
ing, as in that of Zoroaster. 

The social meal, originally connected with the Lord's 
Supper, was retained after the two were separated, and 
was designated by the term Agape, or Love Feast ; where 
the poor of the church feasted on a banquet supplied by 
the rich. Tertullian thus describes it : " Our supper shows 
its character by its name. It bears the Greek name of 
Love ; and however great may be the expense of it, still 


It is gain to make expense in the name of piety ; for we 
give joy to all the poor by this refreshment. The cause 
of the supper is a worthy one, and it is managed with pro- 
priety suited to its religious object. No vulgarity, nothing 
unbeseeming, is permitted. No one approaches the table 
till prayer has first been offered to God. As much is eaten 
as is necessary to satisfy the demands of hunger ; as much 
is drunk as consists with sobriety ; every one remember- 
ing that the night remains consecrated to God. The con- 
versation is such as might be expected from men fully 
conscious that God hears them. The supper being ended, 
and all having washed their hands, lights are brought in. 
Then each one is invited to sing, as he is able ; either from 
the Holy Scriptures, or a song of praise to God, for the 
common edification, from the promptings of his own spirit. 
The whole is concluded with prayer. 1 ' When the rela- 
tions of men were simple, and the bond between them was 
heartfelt, these feasts were beautifully significant of their 
character. But their original simplicity was not long pre- 
served. The rich began to be ostentatious of their liber- 
ality in providing for the Agape. In the beginning, 
masters and servants had eaten at the same table. But 
afterward, distinctions of rank were introduced. The text 
of Scripture : " Let the elders that rule well be accounted 
worthy of double honour/' was interpreted to signify that a 
double portion of food should be set before the clergy. 
Scandalous stories began to circulate concerning the kiss 
of charity, with which they were accustomed to separate. 
Clement, of Alexandria, expressed disapprobation of those 
who thought to purchase heaven by their bounty on these 
occasions. Tertullian, after he seceded from the church, 
and joined the heretical sect called Montanists, attacked 
the institution he had formerly applauded, and brought 
against it the grossest charges of gluttony and profligacy. 

Three annual Festivals were observed in very early times. 
The Jewish Passover was retained in commemoration of the 
Resurrection, and in process of time took the name of Easter. 
Pentecost was kept in remembrance of the descent of the 


Holy Ghost on the disciples. On the sixth of January, the 
Eastern churches observed a Festival called The Manifesta- 
tion of Christ, in commemoration of his baptism in the Jor- 
dan, when he was manifested as the Messiah. 

Several of the early Fathers were somewhat imbued with 
the eclectic tendencies of the period, which induced them 
to take kindly views of other religions, and to adopt what- 
soever they found of goodness or truth. Origen thus vin- 
dicates some of the ancient religions from an attack made 
upon them by Celsus: "The Egyptian philosophers have 
sublime ideas .of the Divine Nature, which they keep secret, 
and never discover to the people, but under a veil of fables 
and allegories. Celsus is like a man who has travelled into 
that country, and though he has conversed with none but 
the ignorant, yet takes it into his head that he understands 
the Egyptian religion. All the Eastern nations, the people 
of India, the Persians, the Syrians, conceal sacred mysteries 
under their religious fables. The wise men of all religions 
penetrate the true meaning, while the ignorant see only the 
exterior symbol, the bark that covers it." u The Bramins 
say God is Light ; not such as one sees, nor such as the sun 
or fire. But Cod is to them the Logos ; not having a form, 
but the Being of thought, through whom the secret mys- 
teries of knowledge become visible to the wise." Justin 
Martyr call's all human beings Christians, who had lived 
conformably to the Logos ; that is, to the Divine Wisdom, 
or Eeason * "even if they were regarded as atheists by their 
fellow men ; such as Socrates, Heraclitus, and others." He 
says: "Ammon, in his Books, called Cod The Most Hid- 
den ; and Hermes plainly declares that it is hard to con- 
ceive of Cod, and impossible to express Him." Cyprian 
says : "Hermes acknowledged One Cod, whom he confessed 
to be ineffable and inestimable." Clement of Alexandria 
had some knowledge of the Hindoos, and alludes either to 
the Jains or Buddhists ; though he does not call them by 
those names. By the class who admitted women to a life 
of consecrated celibacy, he probably refers to the Buddhists. 
He says : " There are two kinds of philosophers in India, 


the Bramins and the Sarmans. Some of them do not in- 
habit cities, or houses. They clothe themselves with the 
bark of trees, subsist upon acorns and wild berries, and 
drink water from their hands. They eat no living crea- 
ture, drink no wine, and keep themselves perfectly chaste. 
Among some of them there are consecrated virgins called 
Semnai. Some of these philosophers take food daily, others 
only every third day. Some among them go naked all 
their lives. They seek after truth, observe celestial phe- 
nomena, and from them predict future events." 

Clement of Alexandria and Origen had great respect for 
Plato, whom they call " the truth loving." They were 
particularly impressed by the fact that he taught One God, 
called The Good, whose providence was universal; that 
the soul was immortal, and ascended to higher and higher 
spheres of being, according to its purity ; that its perfection 
consisted in resemblance to God, and finally resulted in 
complete union with him. They especially commended 
him for teaching that the chief end of man was to resemble 
the Deity ; whereas Stoics said it was to live according to 
nature. Clement of Alexandria says: "Every movement 
toward good comes from God. He employs those men 
who are peculiarly fitted to guide and instruct others, as his 
organs to work on the mass of mankind. Such were the 
better sort among Greek philosophers. That philosophy 
which forms men to virtue cannot be the work of evil. 
Consequently it must be of God, whose only work is to in- 
duce that which is good. And all gifts bestowed by God 
are given for right ends, and received for right ends. Phi- 
losophy is not found in the possession of bad men ; it was 
given to the best men among the Greeks. It is evidently, 
therefore, the gift of Providence, who bestows on each one 
whatever it is proper for him to receive, under his own pe- 
culiar circumstances. Thus we see to the Jews was given 
the Law, and to the Greeks Philosophy, until the coming 
of our Lord. From that period, a universal call has gone 
forth, for a peculiar people, who are to be made righteous 
through the doctrine of faith ; now that the common God 


of both Greeks and barbarians, or rather of the entire Ira- 
nian race, has brought all together by one common Lord. 
Before the appearance of Christ, philosophy was necessary 
to the Greeks, as a means of righteousness ; but now it is 
useful in the service of piety, as a sort of preparation for ex 
hibiting the evidence of faith. Our feet will not stumble, 
if we derive all good from Providence, whether it belongs 
to the Gentiles, or to ourselves ; since God is the author 
of all good. He is so partly in a more special sense, as in 
the gift of the Old and New Testaments ; partly in a more 
indirect sense, as in the case of Philosophy. But perhaps 
philosophy was also given to the Greeks in a special sense, 
before our Lord called the Gentiles ■ since it educated them 
for Christianity, as the Law did the Jews. Both were pre- 
paratory steps for those who were to be conducted through 
Christ to perfection." In Deuteronomy, the Hebrews are 
told: "The sun, the moon, and the stars hath the Lord 
thy God divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. 
But the Lord hath taken you to be unto him a people of 
inheritance." From this text, Clement inferred that star- 
worship was of divine institution. He says : " God assigned 
to the Gentiles the sun, moon, and stars, as objects of wor- 
ship, that they might not fall into atheism." From an 
apocryphal book, called The Preaching of Peter, the Fa- 
thers received an idea that Peter, as well as Paul, preached 
at Athens. Clement says : " Peter, when preaching to the 
Athenians, implied that the Greeks had a knowledge of 
the Deity. He supposed they adored the same God we do, 
though not in the same manner. He does not forbid us to 
adore the same God as the Greeks ; but he forbids us to 
worship him in the same way." 

There was a class of minds among Christians, of whom 
Tertullian was a prominent representative, who were strong- 
ly opposed to all classical learning, as detrimental to holi- 
ness. They denied that any of the philosophers were in- 
spired by " the most ancient Logos." Eegarding Jupiter, 
Apollo, and the other deities as the Fallen Angels, who 
fell in love with women, and taught magic, they main- 


tained that the philosophers and poets of Greece and Eome 
were inspired solely by Demons, and consequently all of 
them were organs of Evil Spirits, The Book of Enoch, 
then much in vogue among Christians, was frequently quo- 
ted to sustain this doctrine, Clement of Alexandria com- 
bated these views; for he could not forget by what process 
his own mind had been prepared for Christianity. He says : 
""Allowing this view to be correct, yet even Satan could 
deceive men only by clothing himself like an angel of 
light. In order to draw men, he must be obliged to mingle 
truth with falsehood; and we must still search for and ac- 
knowledge the truth, from whatever quarter it may come. 
Even this communication can take place no otherwise than 
according to the will of God. It must therefore be included 
with all the rest of God^s plan for the education of the hu- 
man race. But when we consider that sin and disorder are 
the only appropriate works of Satan, is it not strange that 
he should be represented as the bestower of philosophy, 
which is a benefit? In this, he would seem to have been 
more benevolent to good men among the Greeks, than Di- 
vine Providence himself" Elsewhere he says: "He who 
would gather from every quarter what would be for the 
profit of the catechumens, especially if they are Greeks, 
must not, like irrational brutes, be shy of much learning, 
but must seek to collect round him every possible means 
of helping his hearers." An heretical teacher, named Her- 
mogenes, taught that men did not receive immortality until 
it was imparted by the new life infused into them from 
Christ ; hence only those who believed on him would be 
immortal ; all others would sink back into the inert mass 
of Matter, whence they sprang. Others who believed hu- 
man souls were originally immortal, thought they had lost 
the gift, and could regain it only by baptism and participa- 
tion of the eucharist. Both these views of course excluded 
all Pagans from salvation. 

Many converts came into Christianity through the por- 
tal of Greek philosophy, and some of them proved the 
greatest ornaments of the church. But in general, the 
Vol. II.— 31 Q 


views entertained by Christians appeared monstrous and 
absurd to the learned among the Gentiles. Celsus, sup- 
posed to have been an Epicurean philosopher, toward the 
close of the second century, was the first writer who en- 
tered the lists against them; and he made his attack 
mostly in a sarcastic vein. The pictures of God's ven- 
geance, borrowed from the Jews, were peculiarly offensive 
to Greek and Eoman philosophers, who could never con- 
ceive of the Supreme Being as capable of anger, or any 
other passion. The fictions of the poets, which so repre- 
sented Jupiter, were, by them, uniformly regarded as impi- 
ous. Celsus and other writers scoffed at the idea that the 
Logos of God was born of a woman, walked about in a 
human form, and was subject to human infirmities. They 
compared it to the fables of their poets, which represented 
Jupiter as assuming various shapes to pursue his love-affairs 
on earth. They retorted the charge of polytheism, by ac- 
cusing Christians of believing in more than one God ; for 
Christ, as the Maker of heaven and earth, had " more power 
than was ever attributed to Apollo, or Mars." The idea 
that the world was made for man, and that the providence 
of God watched over the well-being of every individual, 
seemed to Celsus mere arrogant presumption. He says : 
" It is not for man, any more than for lions and eagles, that 
everything in the world has been created. It was in order 
that the world, as the work of God, might present a perfect 
whole. God provides only for the whole; and that his 
providence never deserts. This world never becomes any 
worse. God does not return to it, after a Ions: interval. 
He is as little angry with man, as he is with apes and flies. 
The universe has been provided, once for all, with all the 
powers necessary for its preservation, and for developing 
itself after the same laws. God has not, like a human ar- 
chitect, so executed his work, that at some future period it 
would need to be repaired." 

With regard to the Christian doctrine of One God, Celsus 
says: " We also place a Supreme Being above the world, 
and above all created things ; and we approve and sympa- 


thize with whatever may be taught concerning a spiritual 
rather than a material adoration of the gods. For with a 
belief in the gods, worshipped in every land and by every 
people, harmonizes the belief in a Primal Being, a Supreme 
God, who has given to every land its guardian, to every 
people its presiding deity. The unity of the Supreme Be- 
ing, and the consequent unity of the design of the universe, 
remains, even if it be admitted that each nation has its gods, 
whom it must worship in a peculiar manner, according to its 
peculiar character ; and the worship of all these different 
deities is reflected back to the Supreme God, who has ap- 
pointed them, as it were, his delegates and representatives. 
Those who argue that men ought not to serve many mas- 
ters, impute human weakness to God. He is not jealous 
of the adoration paid to subordinate deities. His nature is 
superior to degradation and insult. Reason itself might 
justify the belief in the inferior deities, the objects of estab- 
lished worship, For since the Supreme Being can only 
produce that which is immortal and imperishable, the 
existence of mortal beings cannot be explained, unless 
we distinguish from Him those inferior deities, and sup- 
pose them to be the creators of mortal beings, and of per- 
ishable things." 

Celsus, in common with most of the Grecians, despised 
Christianity as a blind faith, that shunned the light of 
reason. He says: "They are forever repeating, Do not 
examine. Only believe, and thy faith will make thee 
blessed. Wisdom is a bad thing in life ; foolishness is to 
be preferred." He jeers at the fact that ignorant men were 
allowed to preach. He says : " You may see weavers, 
tailors, fullers, and the most illiterate and rustic fellows, 
who dare not speak a word before wise men, when they 
can get a company of children and silly women together, 
set up to teach strange paradoxes among them." The 
words of Jesus, "I thank thee, O Father, that thou hast 
concealed these things from the wise and prudent, and hast 
revealed them unto babes," Celsus construes thus: "This 
is one of their rules : Let no man that is learned, wise, or 


prudent, come among us ; but if any be unlearned, or a 
child, or an idiot, let him freely come. So they openly 
declare that none but the ignorant, and those devoid of un- 
derstanding, slaves, women, and children, are fit disciples 
for the God they worship," The calling of sinners into the 
fold of the church also seemed to him a degrading feature 
in the new religion ; for it was altogether foreign to the 
dignified respectability of the philosophic schools. He 
says : " Those who invite us to become initiated into other 
religious Mysteries, begin by proclaiming, Let only him 
approach who is free from stain, who is conscious of no 
wickedness, who has lived a good and upright life. But 
let us hear who it is these Christians call. They say ? 
Whoever is a sinner, whoever is foolish, whoever is wretched, 
him will the kingdom of God receive." He ridicules the 
self-abasement of the Christian, whom he describes as 
u forever on his knees, of rolling in the dust; a man who 
dresses meanly, and sprinkles himself with ashes." The 
miracles of Christ and his followers, he attributed to magic. 
He says i " The magicians in Egypt cast out Evil Spirits, 
cure diseases by a breathy call up the spirits of the dead ? 
make inanimate things move as if they were alive, and so 
influence some uncultured men, that they produce in them 
whatever sights and sounds they please. But because they 
do such things shall we consider them sons of God ? Or 
shall we call such things the tricks of wicked and pitiable 
men ?" He speaks also of wonder-workers among the 
Christians, " who ramble about to play tricks at fairs and 
markets ; not indeed in circles of the wiser and better sort,, 
for among such they never venture to appear ; but wherever 
they see a set of ignorant young fellows, slaves, or fools, 
there they take care to intrude themselves, and display all 
their arts." Lucian, a friend of Celsus, writing in the same 
spirit, says: " If a magician, or impostor, who is apt at his 
trade, goes among the Christians, he can shortly make 
himself rich; having to deal with an ignorant class of 

Celsus especially holds up to ridicule the gross pictures 


of the millenium, which some delighted to draw ; nor does 
he fail to take advantage of the divisions continually spring- 
ing up. He says : " When Christians were few in number, 
perhaps they agreed among themselves. But, as their 
numbers increased, they separated into parties, mutually 
attacking and refuting each other, retaining nothing in 
common but their name ; if indeed they did that. Many 
who came, as it were out of a fit of intoxication into their 
sober senses, altered the evangelical narrative, in manifold 
ways, from the shape in which it was first recorded, that 
they might have wherewith to refute objections." He also 
reproached them with forging imitations of the Grecian 
Sibyls, and passing them off as prophecies concerning 

Origen wrote an able and earnest reply to Celsus. He 
ridiculed the images which the populace were taught to 
regard as gods ; saying that swallows would build nests in 
their mouths, and spiders cover their heads with cobwebs, 
unless great pains were taken to brush and wash them. 
He gloried in it, as a peculiarity of the Christian religion, 
proving it to be a revelation from that Grod who cared for 
all men, that it had power to attract, by mere faith, the 
masses of mankind, who by their situation were incapable 
of scientific inquiry. He adds : " But we are far from pro- 
hibiting the wise, the learned, and the prudent from coming 
among us, provided the rude, the simple, and the unlearned 
be not excluded. We are most willing to instruct our 
youth in the presence of masters of families, and Doctors 
of philosophy, if they are men who aspire after the best 
things ; for we are well assured that we should find such 
men favourable judges." 

No charge was more frequently brought against the 
Christians than that of trying to introduce a religion which 
had no antiquity to recommend it, whose founder was a 
poor carpenter in Judea, a malefactor, condemned to an 
ignominious death. To this reproach the Fathers replied 
in various ways. They affirmed that he who was appa- 
rently a carpenter, and a malefactor, was the Divine Logos, 
Vol. II.— 31* 


who had dwelt with the Father from all eternity. Secondly, 
they maintained that their teaching was according to the 
law of nature, and therefore as old as the world. Lastly, 
they declared that Christianity was substantially the same 
as the Hebrew religion, for which they claimed superior 
antiquity and worth, aboye all other religions. Having 
thus identified Christianity with Judaism, and being fully 
convinced these were the only revelations from God him- 
self, they very naturally ascribed everything that was good 
or true elsewhere to a Jewish origin. Philo intimates that 
Plato and Aristotle borrowed all that was excellent in their 
philosophy from the Hebrew Sacred Books, and that Zeno 
was an imitator of Moses. It was also a common opinion 
among Hellenistic Jews that Grecian legislators had tran- 
scribed from the tables of Moses all that was valuable in 
their own laws. The Christian Fathers readily imbibed 
these ideas. Some of them were accustomed to call Plato 
"the Hebrew Philosopher," "the Athenian Moses," or 
"Moses speaking Greek." Pythagoras was said to have 
been acquainted with Ezekiel in Babylon, and "Golden 
Yerses" were attributed to him, which were in fact mere 
transcripts of Mosaic precepts against idolatry and theft. 
It was generally agreed that everything false in Greek or 
Eoman writers was taught by the Evil Spirits, whom they 
worshipped as deities ; but all that was true, they borrowed 
from the Hebrews. A few believed that the best philoso- 
phers, Plato especially, were enlightened in a lesser degree 
by the same Logos who taught the Patriarchs and inspired 
Moses and the Prophets. 

But while they reverenced the same God, and the same 
Scriptures as the Jews, they were engaged in hotter con- 
troversies with them, than with the Gentiles. The alle- 
gorical mode of interpretation, established on no system 
whatever, and resorted to by both parties, was of itself suf- 
ficient reason why disputes should be interminable. The 
Jewish mind trained for centuries to regard the unity of 
God as inviolable, could not be made to view the doctrine 
of the Logos in any other light than as teaching a plurality 


of gods. The expectation of a personal Messiah had be- 
come much less strong among Hellenistic Jews, than it had 
been in Palestine ; a fact indicated by the writings of Philo 
and Josephus. They were therefore less attracted toward 
those who believed they had found the long-promised one. 
Moreover, they continually disputed the evidence brought 
by Christians. It could not be made to appear clear to 
them that the life and character of Jesus fulfilled the pre- 
dictions of their prophets. When his birth was brought as 
a proof, they replied : " But if Joseph was not his father, 
he was not of the lineage of David." To meet this objec- 
tion it was asserfed that Mary also was a descendant of the 
old royal line ; and Justin Martyr thought it was satisfac- 
torily proved. They continually accused the Christians 
of misquoting their Scriptures. These frequent charges 
induced Origen to undertake the vast labour of comparing 
all the different versions of the Old Testament. 

But there is a pleasanter point of view, from which to 

contemplate those old heroes of the faith. Their credulity 

belonged to the age in which they lived ; and polemical 

strife was inevitable, when old religions were breaking up, 

and giving place to the new; but their unfailing sympathy 

with the poor, and their patient instruction of the ignorant. 

were peculiarly their own. Origen says : " We openly 

avow our purpose of instructing all men in the Word of 

God. We give to every one such training as is adapted 

to him. We disdain not to teach slaves to conceive noble 

sentiments, and to obtain freedom by obedience to the Word 

of God." When ridiculed for the great preponderance of the 

poor among them, they replied: "It is not our dishonour, 

but our glory. Yet how can that man be poor, who wants 

nothing, who envies not another's possessions, and who is 

rich in God ? He rather is poor, who, having much, desires 

more." Athenagoras says : " With us you may find ignorant 

people, mechanics and women, who, though unable to prove 

with words the saving power of their religion, yet by their 

deeds prove the saving influence of the disposition it has 

bestowed on them ; for they do not learn words by rote, 


but they exhibit good works. "When struck, they strik© 
not again. When robbed, they do not go to law. They 
give to them that ask them, and lore their neighbours as 
themselves." Justin Martyr says : " We can point out 
many among us, who, from overbearing and tyrannical 
men, have been changed by a victorious power, when they 
have seen how their neighbours could bear all things, or 
observed the singular patience of their defrauded fellow 
travellers, or come to be acquainted with Christians in any 
of the other relations of life." Origen says : " The work 
of Jesus is manifested among all mankind, where commu- 
nities of God, founded by Jesus, exist. They are com- 
posed of men reclaimed from a thousand vices. To this 
day, the name of Jesus produces a wonderful mildness, de- 
cency of manners, humanity, goodness, and gentleness, in 
those who embrace the doctrines of Christ, and faith in the 
judgment to come ; not hypocritically, for the sake of hu- 
man advantage and selfish ends, but in sincerity and truth. 
The Christian communities, compared with those among 
whom they dwell, are as lights in the world." Justin Mar- 
tyr says : " "We, who were once slaves of lust, now have 
delight only in purity of morals. We, who once practised 
arts of magic, have consecrated ourselves to the Eternal 
and Good God. We, who once prized gain above all 
things, give what we have to the common use, and share 
it with those who are in need. We, who once hated and 
murdered one another, who, on account of differences of 
customs, would have no common hearth with strangers, 
do now live together with them. We pray for our 
enemies ; we seek to convince those that hate us without 
cause ; so that they may order their lives according to 
Christ's glorious doctrine, and attain to the joyful hope 
of receiving like blessings with us from the Lord of 

The extreme charitableness of Christians doubtless might 
sometimes induce the poor to join their communities, with- 
out becoming Christians by conviction ; but at that period 
of the church, there were so many perils to be encountered, 


and so few worldly advantages to be gained, that they were 
not liable to receive many spurious converts. Tertullian 
says : "If you assert that Christians are the worst of men, 
in avarice, riotousness, and dishonesty, I will not deny that 
some are so. In the purest body, some freckles may doubt- 
less be discovered." 

Many Christians were in the habit of setting apart days 
for private self-examination and prayer. They usually 
fasted during such seasons, and what was saved from daily 
food was given to the poor. Sometimes, when there was 
distress in other Christian communities, the bishop ap- 
pointed a general fast, to raise money for their relief. If 
the smaller towns were too poor to do all that was needed, 
the wealthy metropolitan churches were alwajs ready to 
make up the necessary sum. Many converts, at baptism, 
gave most of their property, or all of it, to the church fund 
for charity; guided by the precept: "If thou wilt be per^ 
feet, sell all that thou hast and give to the poor." In times 
of persecution, magistrates were surprised to find how 
young patrician girls in Rome had privately sold their 
jewels to relieve the indigent. While Christians were still 
limping from the rack, and marked with the brands and 
scars of the Decian persecution, a pestilence began to rage 
in North Africa, and the terrified people deserted the dead 
and the dying. Cyprian called his church together, and 
said: "If we do good only to our own, we do no more 
than publicans and heathens. But if we are children of 
God, who makes his sun to shine on the just and the un- 
just, who scatters blessings not merely on his own, but 
even on those whose thoughts are far from him, we must 
manifest it by our actions ; striving to be perfect even as 
our Father in Heaven is perfect ; blessing those that curse 
us, and doing good to those that despitefully use us." Ani- 
mated by this advice, the rich gave their money liberally, 
and the poor their labour. The sick were carefully tended, 
and the dead bodies scattered in the streets, infecting the 
whole city, were soon buried. When barbarians made an 
irruption into Numidia, and carried some of the Christiana 



away captive, Cyprian speedily raised more than four thou- 
sand dollars, and transmitted it to the Numidian bishops, 
for their ransom. In his letter, he says : " Who ought not 
to look on the distress of his brother as his own ? Who 
that is a father, and respects the claims of humanity, ought 
not to feel as if his own children were among those barba- 
rians ?" The Apostle Paul tells us, if one member suffers 
all the members suffer with it. It is our earnest hope that 
you may never again be visited with a like affliction ; but 
should any similar calamity befall you, to try the love and 
faith of our hearts, delay not to inform us of it; for be 
assured all the brethren here are ready to assist you, cheer- 
fully and abundantly." During the reign of Trajan, a Pre- 
fect of Rome, named Hermes, was converted to the Chris- 
tian faith, with his wife and children. At the succeeding 
festival of Easter, he proved how deeply the teaching of 
Christ had taken possession of his soul, by emancipating 
one thousand two hundred and fifty slaves ; and on that 
joyful occasion they all received baptism and liberty. The 
thoughtful kindness of the conscientious master went still 
further. Knowing that their condition as slaves had de- 
prived them of the means of acquiring property, and fear- 
ing that their families might suffer for a time, from dearth 
of employment, he added a liberal donation to each one, to 
assist him in commencing business for himself. Christians 
had such strong sympathy with their own brethren who 
were sold into slavery, either by war or persecution, that 
they often sold themselves to redeem others. Bishops con- 
sidered that no more pious use could be made of the funds 
of the church, than to redeem a Christian brother from 
bondage ; and for this purpose they did not hesitate to sell 
the silver goblets and plates used for the Lord's Supper. 
Clement of Rome, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, writes 
thus : " We have known many among us, who have deliv- 
ered themselves into bonds and slavery, that they might 
restore others to their liberty ; many that have let them- 
selves out as servants, that by their wages they might sus- 
tain those who are in need." Clement of Alexandria bears 


the same testimony, and adduces examples within his own 

Obedience to the government was deemed a duty in all 
cases, except those which involved the worship of the old 
deities. Tertullian, in answer to a charge of disloyalty, 
says : " The Christian is the enemy of no man ; assuredly 
not of the emperor. The Sovereign he knows to be or- 
dained of God. Of necessity, therefore, he loves, honours, 
and reveres him ; and prays for his safety, with that of the 
whole Roman empire, that it may endure ; and endure it 
will, as long as the world." 


The Judaizing Christians. — Having thus given a 
summary glance at the prominent characters of the early 
Fathers, I will endeavour to describe, as concisely as pos- 
sible, the sects who were especially troublesome to them. 
First, I will speak of those which most strongly retained 
the stamp of their Jewish origin. How difficult it was for 
the disciples of Moses to free themselves from their deeply- 
rooted national exclusiveness has been repeatedly stated. 
Among the Twelve Apostles, Peter seems to have made 
the greatest advance in this respect ; probably owing to his 
more frequent companionship with Paul, and his acquaint- 
ance with the devout Roman centurion. Though appointed 
by a Council at Jerusalem to be the "apostle of the circum- 
cision," he declared : " Of a truth, I perceive that God is no 
respecter of persons ; but in every nation he that feareth 
him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." 
The whole drift of Paul's preaching went to prove that the 
Mosaic dispensation was local and transitory, while the 
principles inculcated by Christ were universal and perma- 
nent; that the old ritual consisted of types, to shadow forth 
the new doctrines, which were the substance. His superior 
education, combined with the earnestness and directness of 
his character, and the consequent certainty of his convic- 
tions, rendered him a very powerful and efficient preacher, 


He was not only eminently successful in gaining Gentile 
proselytes, but converts from the Hellenistic Jews were 
everywhere more or less modified by the expansion of his 
ideas ; though in all the churches established by him there 
was a Peter party and a Paul party. 

The case was different with Christianized Jews in Pales- 
tine. The first fifteen bishops at Jerusalem were all ob- 
servers of the Mosaic law. People in the old country were 
generally less educated, and less enterprising than the Jews 
scattered abroad in foreign cities. They had very little 
communication with other countries, and, of course, the 
spirit of conservatism remained strong among them. They 
were in the same state as those who said to Paul : " Thou 
seest, brother, how many Jews there are that believe, and 
they are all zealous for the Law." In their view, Christi- 
anity was in fact merely a perfected kind of Judaism. 
Obscurity rests on the history of the church at Jerusalem. 
From statements of the Christian Fathers, we learn that 
they left the Holy City before it was attacked and destroyed 
by Titus ; that they retired to Pella, a country east of the 
Sea of Galilee ; that after the war was over, many of them 
returned, and remained there till the insurrection under 
Bar-Cochebas, who professed to be the Messiah. The city 
was then taken by Adrian, who established a Eoman Colony 
there, and expelled the Jews. The Palestine Christians, 
being all strict observers of the rites and ceremonies of the 
Mosaic Law, were regarded merely as a sect of Jews, and 
consequently shared in the banishment. In their exile, 
they formed acquaintance with Gentile converts; their 
prejudices gradually relaxed; a portion of them discon- 
tinued the practice of circumcision, and other Jewish cere- 
monials, in which they had persevered for more than a 
century ; and, finally, in the year one hundred and thirty- 
eight, they elected a Gentile bishop. By these concessions, 
and by asserting that they believed in a spiritual Messiah, 
whose kingdom was not of this world, they disarmed the 
political jealousy of Rome, and were allowed to return to 
Jerusalem, where they established a Christian church, into 


which Gentile converts were received on an equality with 
converted Jews. 

But a considerable portion of the exiles adhered to their 
old views, and refused to follow the foreign bishop. They 
spread into the villages round Damascus, and considering 
themselves as the true depositories of the genuine apostolic 
doctrine, they refused to hold religious communication with 
uncircumcised believers in Christ. Jews rejected them as 
apostates, and Christians regarded them as heretics. For 
one hundred years it was a subject of controversy whether 
a man could be saved if he accepted Jesus as the promised 
Messiah, without conforming to the Law of Moses. Through 
manifold and perilous struggles, Paul gained the victory. 
The Petrine controversy gradually subsided, and at last it 
became a question whether a Christian convert could be 
saved if he did conform to the Law. Justin Martyr says 
that, as early as his time, the more rigid Gentile Christians 
would hold no intercourse with such, and maintained that 
they could not be saved. Others thought they might 
escape damnation, provided they practised Mosaic rites 
without pretending to assert their necessity, or general use. 

Jews called all Christians Nazarenes, on account of their 
originating in Nazareth ; and Christians seem to have ap- 
plied the same term to one sect of those who retained their 
attachment to old Hebrew forms. But they were accus- 
tomed to designate all the Christian followers of Moses by 
the general term of Ebionites. These had a Gospel, written 
in modern Hebrew, [Aramaean] which they believed con- 
tained an authentic account of the sayings and doings of 
Jesus, as related by the Twelve Apostles, and recorded by 
Matthew. It did not contain the two first chapters, but 
began with the baptism of Jesus. The copy used by the 
Nazarene sect had two chapters preceding the baptism ; 
but quotations which remain indicate that they differed 
somewhat from those that have come down to us. The 
Nazarenes considered the Mosaic law binding upon them- 
.selves, but were willing to dispense with its observance in 
the case of Gentile converts. They denounced the Scribes 
Vol. II.— 32 


and Pharisees, who by their traditions had hindered the 
people from believing in Jesus. But they said the whole 
world would finally be converted to Christ, and all that the 
prophets had promised concerning the Messiah's kingdom 
would be fulfilled in him. They called him " The First 
Born of the Holy Spirit;" but their Gospel represented 
the Holy Spirit as his Mother ; probably from the Cabalistic 
idea that the Divine Wisdom was feminine. Philo em- 
bodied the same idea in the Universal Mother, whom he 
named Sophia. Another class of Ebionites supposed that 
a superior Angel, one who presided over all the other 
Angels, descended upon Christ at baptism, filled him with 
Divine power, and remained with him during his life. 
Others supposed that the Heavenly Man, called Adam 
Kadman, or the First Adam, who appeared as the proge- 
nitor of the human race, had re-appeared in Christ, as the 
Messiah, to deliver God's last revelation to mankind. 
Epiphanius, one of the later Christian Fathers, of Jewish 
parentage, says : " The Ebionites believe that God created 
the Spirit of Adam before any of the Angels, and made 
him Lord of all ; that this immortal Adam descended from 
above whenever he pleased ; that he had dwelt in the 
body of the earthly Adam, and afterward in Abraham and 
David; that in the latter days he had appeared in the 
form of Jesus, who was the Messiah ; that his body was 
crucified, and he had returned to heaven." He also says : 
"They do not believe that Christ was born of God the 
Father, but that he was created, like the archangels ; being 
greater, however, than they, governing the Angels, and all 
things made by God." 

These sects, and others, are confounded together under 
the general term of Ebionites, a word which Origen defines 
as meaning The Poor. Some suppose it was contemptu- 
ously bestowed upon them because the members of Chris- 
tian communities generally belonged to the labouring class. 
Others suppose it originally designated one sect among 
Jewish Christians, who renounced property. Epiphanius 
speaks of an Ebionite sect, existing in his time, who ate 


no meat, and offered no animals, because they considered 
sacrificial worship an innovation upon primitive Judaism, 
and derived from a foreign source. They had a book, 
called The Steps of Jacob, in which that patriarch is repre- 
sented as discoursing against sacrifices, and the ritual of 
Temple worship. They considered renunciation of worldly 
goods essential to Christian perfection, without which no 
one could participate in the kingdom of the Messiah. 
They gloried in the name of Ebionites, and traced it back 
to the circumstance that their forefathers, who, they said, 
formed the first church at Jerusalem, renounced all rights 
of property, and held all things in common. They praised 
early marriages, as conducive to virtue, and were opposed 
to those who over- valued celibacy. 

The strict Ebionites considered the Law of Moses bind- 
ing upon all followers of Christ, whether Jews or Grentiles ; 
therefore they would hold no communion with uncircum- 
cised converts. They believed that the mission of Jesus 
was confined to Israelites, and those who became so by 
adopting their customs. They sustained this position by 
quoting the assertion of Christ, that he did not come to do 
away the Law, and that whosoever infringed the least of its 
commandments, could not share his kingdom. They re- 
garded Paul as an apostate, and rejected his writings ; 
saying they were not intended for them, and were written 
in a language they did not understand. Once a year, at 
the Passover, they celebrated the Lord's Supper, with un- 
leavened bread and water; the use of wine being contrary 
to their strict ideas of temperance. They regarded Jesus 
as a man, the son of Joseph and Mary, whose birth differed 
in no respect from other mortals. They said he was dis- 
tinguished by reverence for the Law of Moses, and emi- 
nently pious in the observance of it ; and on that account 
he was chosen to be the Messiah. They supposed that he 
and others were ignorant of his important mission, till 
Elijah, who had re-appeared in the form of John the 
Baptist, revealed it to him when he entered the Jordan. 
At the moment of baptism, he was filled with divine 


power, which enabled him to work miracles. This power 
was supposed to have been infused into him by the descent 
of some great Spirit from above ; concerning whom they 
had different ideas, as has been already stated. They re- 
garded the Devil as a Power, which God allowed to exist 
in opposition to the Messiah ; that he had control over the 
present world, and Christ over that which was to come. 
They lived in constant expectation that the Messiah would 
return, and restore Jerusalem to more than its former 
splendour ; that the time was at hand when Gentile nations 
would come and humbly offer to be servants to Israel, 
bringing with them horses and chariots, litters and drome- 
daries, silver and gold. 

Though the Ebionites were generally too poor to com- 
mand great advantages of education, there were some 
learned men among them. The most conspicuous was 
Symmachus, who flourished about the year two hundred. 
His translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek is 
spoken of with the highest respect by Origen, and other 
writers of his own time. 

A strictly Jewish Christian church remained at Pell a 
down to the fifth century. They gradually dwindled 
away, and all traces of them disappeared, except a few in- 
cidental allusions in the writings of the Fathers. The 
externals of Judaism vanished from Christianity, but many 
of its ideas and traditions remained permanently fused 
with the new religion to which it had unconsciously given 
birth ; though the limited idea of Christ, as the Messiah of 
the Jews, was merged in the doctrine that he was the Re- 
deemer of the World. 

The Gnostics. — While the fermentation of the new 
wine thus burst the old bottles of Jewish conservatism, 
into which it was first poured, a flood of influences had 
been pouring in from the Gentile world. The epoch was 
a peculiar one, and remarkably favourable to the reception 
and general dissemination of a new religion. War and 
commerce had mixed people, in an unprecedented manner 


from the Indus to the Mediterranean. A multitude of na- 
tions were bound together under the government of Rome, 
and their characters were beginning to be ameliorated bj 
the progressive excellence of Roman laws, which were 
wise and just beyond any the world had then known. 
The Greek language was familiar to scholars of all nations, 
and a door was thus opened for the general dissemination 
of Grecian philosophy and literature. There had been a 
long interval of peace, during which art and literature 
flourished. Socrates, Plato, Cicero, and others, had done 
much to establish a higher standard of morality, and in- 
troduce wiser ideas of Deity. Thinking men had out- 
grown the religious forms in which they were educated, 
and either scoffed at them openly, laid them aside silently, 
or endeavoured to adapt them to their wants, by allegori- 
cal interpretation. It was a period of wonderful intellect- 
ual activity, and spiritual amalgamation. The souls of 
men were hungry for truth. They were travelling through 
all regions of the earth in search of it, with willingness to 
find portions of it every where, and to adopt them where- 
soever found. It was precisely a state of things which 
must inevitably give birth to a new religion, in some form 
or other. 

The earliest establishments of Christianity were in cities 
which formed a focus for this universal admixture of na- 
tions and creeds. Antioch, which was the earliest head- 
quarters of foreign operations, where the followers of Jesus 
first received the name of Christians, and where the first 
cathedral was erected, was one of the wealthiest and most 
populous cities in the world. From its geographical posi- 
tion, the high road between Asia and Europe passed 
through it ; and the magnificent worship of the Daphnsean 
Apollo annually attracted thither crowds of worshippers. 

Ephesus was the great emporium of all Southern Asia, 

and was of course full of foreigners, especially orientals. 

Asia, Egypt, Palestine, and Greece, were represented there. 

•.Philosophers, and teachers of doctrines new and old, of 

course, congregated where there was such an audience. 

Vol. II.— 32* 


Apollonius the Pythagorean, Cerinthus the Gnostic, the He vv 
Platonists, and the Christian Apostles John and Paul, are 
all recorded as having taught there. We are also in- 
formed that disciples of John the Baptist had wandered 
thither. It is a singular circumstance that thej seem to 
have been unacquainted with the religion of Jesus, not- 
withstanding their own teacher is said to have announced 
him so distinctly as the Messiah, in consequence of a visi- 
ble and audible miracle at his baptism, though they were 
connected by the natural ties of relationship, and by re- 
markable visions and prophecies preceding the birth of 
each. When Paul encountered these disciples of John at 
Ephesus, they said, in answer to his inquiries, that they 
had been baptized by John, but had not so much as heard 
whether there was a Holy Ghost. Paul said to them: 
"John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, 
saying unto the people that they should believe on him 
who should come after ; that is, on Christ Jesus. When 
they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the 
Lord Jesus." 

Rome, where it is generally believed that the Apostle 
Peter established a church, and where a Christian com- 
munity certainly existed at a very early period, brought 
back from her extensive conquests not only the spoils of 
half the world, but their opinions also. Every system of 
philosophy was promulgated there, and almost every form 
of religion was introduced and tolerated, so long as it did 
not endanger the permanence of existing institutions. 

But above all places, Alexandria was the arena for all 
new theories under the sun. Its founder, Alexander the 
Great, was well aware that mankind are more tenacious of 
theological opinions and observances, than they are of civil 
liberty ; he, therefore, very wisely pursued a system of 
extreme toleration, and permitted almost unlimited free- 
dom of discussion. The wish to make his new city a place 
of fusion for all nations might have led to the introduction 
of the worship of Serapis, who was represented as combin- 
ing all the attributes of all the gods, and who was conse- 


quently surrounded by symbols sacred in various religions. 
The far-famed Library attracted crowds of inquirers from 
all parts of the world. Not less than fourteen thousand 
students are said to have been accommodated in the city at 
one time. Whoever had a new theory to preach, or 
wished to hear one, went to Alexandria. It was as famous 
for commerce as for literature ; being a great thoroughfare 
between the East and the West, the half-way house of 
Asia and Europe. Dion Chrysostom, who wrote in the 
time of Trajan, says : " I see among you not only Greeks 
and Italians, Syrians, Libyans, Ethiopians, and Arabians, 
but Bactrians, Scythians, Persians, and travellers from 
India, who flow together into this city, and are always 
with you." There the belief in the supernatural, so con-, 
spicuous in Judaism, mingled with the refined speculations' 
of Plato. There were the magnificent monuments of 
Egypt, her significant traditions, her secret doctrines, her 
mystic emblems. There the philosophies of Greece at- 
tracted more attention than in any country which spoke her 
harmonious language. The number of Jews in Alexan- 
dria equalled those in Palestine; and there were many 
more educated men among them. They established 
schools, much frequented by their brethren residing in 
Babylon, with whom they kept up intimate relations of 
commerce and friendship. The deserts in the adjoining 
regions swarmed with Egyptian hermits, who, like their 
models in Hindostan, considered mortification of the body 
essential to the good of the soul. In the same solitary 
places were planted communities of the Jewish Thera- 
peutae, who mingled oriental doctrines with their reverence 
for Moses. In this spiritual atmosphere a Christian 
church grew up, said to have been founded by Mark, the 
Evangelist, and to have numbered many of the Thera- 
peutae among its converts. This circumstance, and the 
constant communication of Alexandria, and other great 
cities, with the East, are worthy of observation, because 
the subsequent growth of Christianity was thereby greatly 


What goes Tinder the name of oriental philosophy varied 
in its details in different ages, countries, and sects ; but in 
all its modifications it may be easily recognized by a few 
characteristic features. They all represented One Supreme 
Being, dwelling in fulness of Light, from whom Spiritual 
Intelligences emanated, by laws of inherent necessity, as 
rays from the sun. Matter, co-eternal with the Supreme, 
was a refractory force in the universe, the origin of evil. 
It was contrary to the dignity and purity of the Supreme 
to make this material world ; therefore, they always sup- 
posed that one of the Spirits who emanated from him was 
the Creator and Governor. — Usually, it was the first ema- 
nation ; as was the Brahma of the Hindoos, the Amun of 
the Egyptians, the Ormuzd of the Persians, the Logos of 
Philo and the Platonists, and the Adam Kadman of the 
Cabalists. But abhorrence of Matter led some sects to sup- 
pose a long series of Spirits between (rod and the world. 
They all considered the souls of men as inferior emana- 
tions from God, degraded and fettered by connection with 
Matter, and regarded it as the great object of existence to 
become re-united to the Source whence they proceeded. 
This could be done by subduing the appetites, avoiding ex- 
ternal attractions, and thinking intensely upon holy things. 
In this state of mind, the science of God, the only true 
knowledge, would be revealed to the soul by intuition. 
The Hindoo Yedas are full of praises of this "science," and 
the blissful " absorption in Brahm," which it produces. 
Plato prescribes subjugation of the senses, and contempla- 
tion on divine subjects, as the means of obtaining inward 
perceptions of the World of Spirits, and becoming one with 
God. (The number Three is sacred in all theories derived 
from oriental sources. Deity is always a Trinity of some 
kind, or the successive emanations proceed in threes. Seven 
is likewise significant ; being the number of the Planetary 
Spirits, and of the spheres of light they inhabit; of which 
the resplendent sphere of the Supreme is the eighth and 
highest. What was the original source of these systems the 
learned may settle, if they can. The germ of it all is evi- 


dently in the most ancient books of Hindostan. Whether 
India borrowed it from Egypt, or lent it to her, is imma- 
terial. The old Grecian philosophers took it from Egypt. 
When Christianity was introduced, it was floating all round 
the world, and intellectual men had everywhere a leaning 
toward it, in some form or other. In its more elevated 
Platonic form, it was grafted upon Judaism by Philo ; and 
the Cabalists did the same thing, in a more complicated 
oriental fashion. How early it mingled with Christianity 
may be seen in the theories of Justin Martyr, Clement of 
Alexandria, Origen, and others. It has been already shown 
how Simon Magus modified it, and Cerinthus attempted to 
join it with both Judaism and Christianity. They were fol- 
lowed by a series of teachers, whose systems differed from 
each other in various particulars, but who were known by 
the general name of Gnostics, from the Greek word Gnosis, 
meaning Science ; because they all agreed in believing that 
the soul could arrive at perfection onlj by means of the 
science, or knowledge, of God, intuitively received from 

Saturninus. — One of the earliest of the Gnostic teach- 
ers was Saturninus, born at Antioch in Syria, early in the 
second century. He taught One Supreme God, from whom 
emanated many Spirits, or Powers. Seven of these, whose 
leader was the Jehovah of the Jews, created the world, and 
rebelled against the Supreme. He said the Hebrew pro- 
phets were inspired by these Spirits ; though he supposed 
they were in some cases inspired by Satan. Not being 
educated in the Jewish religion, he did not see it in the 
hallowed light which surrounds all traditionary faith. He 
was shocked at the idea that the Supreme God could be 
jealous of other gods, that his anger could " wax hot," that 
he could command the Israelites to rob the Egyptians, and 
to slaughter whole tribes, with their women and children ; 
that he promised temporal rewards for goodness, and con- 
fined his fatherly care to one single people. He was of a 
religious turn of mind, and deeply impressed by the purity 


and benevolence of Christian morals. He found it difficult 
to believe that " a religion which called man so high, could 
be the daughter of a religion which often placed the cha- 
racter of God so low." He believed that Christ was an 
emanation from the Supreme, and was sent into the world 
by Him, not by Jehovah, who was a Spirit far inferior to 
Christ. His oriental views concerning Matter led him to 
reject the idea that Christ was born of a woman. He said 
he had not a real human body, but was a mere appearance, 
an incorporeal image ; as Hindoos were accustomed to say 
concerning the appearance of their deities on earth. He 
denied the resurrection of the body, deeming it pollution 
for the soul to re-enter its prison of flesh. He thought 
souls of the good finally returned to the Celestial Source 
whence they emanated. He divided human souls into two 
distinct classes ; children of light, who emanated from Good 
Spirits, and children of darkness, who emanated from Evil 
Spirits. Satan was always assisting the latter class to tempt 
and ensnare the children of light. It was the mission of 
Christ on earth to effectually separate these conflicting 
races; to rescue good souls, and destroy the kingdom of 
evil. He thought it wrong for the elect to propagate an 
imperfect, impure race, or to indulge in any sensual plea- 
sures. Therefore, he and his followers were strictly ascetic 
They abjured matrimony, and abstained from wine and ani- 
mal food. 

Easilides. — Basilides, cotemporary with Saturninus, was 
a Syrian by birth, but resided in Alexandria. His system 
was more complicated. He taught that seven families of 
Spirits emanated from the Supreme One, in progressive 
degrees of descent, and went on multiplying, till they num- 
bered three hundred and sixty -five. Every family formed 
for itself a sphere of light, wherein they dwelt. Each of 
these abodes was a copy, or reflex, of the one above it, but 
less perfect. The lowest one approached near the kingdom 
of darkness, which felt its rays, and tried to be united with it 
Spirits of Light were thus drawn down into the inert mass, 


and brought into contact with Matter. The Presiding An 
gel of the lowest sphere of light was the Jehovah of the Jews. 
He resolved to reduce the chaotic mass of matter into order; 
and, with the assistance of his companions, he created this 
world. He manifested his selfishness by being jealous of 
other Principalities and Powers, and by wishing to reduce 
all nations to his own dominion. He was entirely igno- 
rant of the Supreme One, who dwelt in the eighth sphere, 
high above all the other spheres. Man had a threefold 
nature ; consisting of a pure spirit, which emanated from 
The Supreme; a sensitive soul, which he received from 
Jehovah the Creator ; and a body formed of brute matter. 
By successive emigrations into various bodies, the impris- 
oned soul was to be at last released from the impure com- 
panionship of the body, and re-ascend to celestial spheres. 
Basilides said of himself: " I lived once without the law ; 
that is, before I came into this human body, I lived in a 
form which is not subject to the law ; in a brute body." 
Origen says his disciples held that one class of human 
souls were always finally saved by the influence of Good 
Spirits, to whom they were related, and that another kind 
were always influenced by Evil Spirits, and never saved ; 
in support of which they quoted what John said of " the 
children of God," and " children of the Devil." To enable 
souls fettered and tempted by Matter in this world, to 
elevate themselves to the upper kingdom of light, the Su- 
preme sent down the highest emanation, Christ, his First 
Born Son, who descended on the man Jesus when he was 
baptized, and remained united with him during his life, 
enabling him to perform miracles, and teach the true God. 
By faith in him, and obedience to his precepts, souls ar- 
rived at a consciousness of their high origin and destina- 
tion, and were thus redeemed. Their ideas concerning 
Matter of course prevented the Basilidians from regarding 
the sufferings and death of the body as any atonement for 
sin. They said Jesus was not crucified ; that Simon of 
Cyrene, who carried the cross, was changed into his form, 
and the Jews executed him, while Jesus stood aloof, and 


smiled at the mistake of his enemies. This sect was nu- 
merous, and continued till into the fourth century. They 
began in purity, but are said to have degenerated fast. 
Having admitted that the soul might be too much elevated 
above the body to be polluted by its actions, and that the 
saints were thus freed from all law, some of them mani- 
fested the same disregard of morality, which has often 
characterized devotees of Hindostan, who held similar doc- 
trines. Clement of Alexandria speaks of followers of Ba- 
silides, " who lead incorrect lives, as persons authorized to 
sin, because of their perfection ; who will certainly be saved, 
though they sin now, because of an election founded in na- 

Marcion. — Marcion was born at Sinope in Syria, at the 
commencement of the second century. He was educated 
in the polytheistic worship ; but his father became a Chris- 
tian convert, and was elected Bishop of Sinope. The son 
also embraced the new faith with great enthusiasm. The 
moral precepts of Christ seemed to him far superior to any- 
thing that had ever been revealed to man, and he had the 
most earnest wish to bring his mind into strict conformity 
with them. So great was the austerity of his manners, that 
ne was soon chosen presbyter of his father's church. The 
Hebrew Scriptures did not commend themselves to his 
mind. He was continually troubled by the feelings and 
actions ascribed to Deity; and by the idea of his direct 
agency upon Matter, in the creation of the world. Orien- 
tal views concerning the body led him to consider celibacy 
essential to holiness ; and thinking this view was favoured 
by expressions and examples in the Christian Scriptures, 
he vowed himself to perpetual chastity. Similarity of re- 
ligious sentiments brought him into frequent communion 
with one of the consecrated virgins of the church, and 
rumours arose that earthly feelings mingled with their 
spiritual friendship ; but there is no evidence that the 
report was well founded. His father, displeased with his 
views concerning the Hebrew Scriptures, thought it a duty 


to excommunicate him, lest he should infect the church. 
He repaired to Eome, hoping to be better understood 
there, than he had been in his native place. His theories 
developed themselves into a form of Gnosticism, more sim- 
ple and practical than most of the systems bearing that 
name. He did not occupy himself with metaphysical spec- 
ulations, or genealogies of Spirits. He held the common 
doctrine that Grod and Matter were co-eternal principles. 
From the Supreme One emanated many Spirits. One of 
them was Jehovah, the Creator of the world, and lawgiver 
of the Jews. His intentions in making the world were 
just, but limited. Unhappily, the refractory force of mat- 
ter, and of Evil Spirits, was so strong, that Jehovah could 
not entirely realize his plans. Though his ideas were not 
of the most elevated order, the world would have been 
much better if he had not been counteracted in his opera- 
tions. Man was his noblest work, whose soul was of the 
same essence with his Maker. But the Creator could not 
separate from his world the evil inherent in Matter ; and 
man could not withdraw himself from the influence of the 
bad elements, of which his body was formed. Jehovah 
gave them a commandment too difficult to keep. They 
disobeyed it, and thus fell still more under the influence of 
Matter and of Evil Spirits. According to Marcion's ideas, 
" the Creator acted toward them with as much weakness 
as severity. If he had been all-good, he would not have 
willed their fall ; if he had been all- wise he would have 
foreseen it ; if he had been all-powerful, he would have 
prevented it." However, he did what he could to con- 
sole them. Those who were faithful to his command- 
ments, as Abel, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he adopted as 
his favourites, and lavished terrestrial favours upon them 
and their descendants. Though he afterward required 
them to bear the heavy yoke of the Mosaic Law, he light- 
ened their burdens by placing them in a fertile territory, 
and he cheered them with prophecies that his Son would 
appear on earth, clothed with great power, to destroy their 
enemies, and secure to them the dominion of the whole 
Vol. II.— 33 r 


world. But Marcion maintained that Jesus was not the 
Messiah promised to the Jews, and was not sent by Jeho- 
vah. He said his character wanted many of those marks 
of the Messiah contained in the Prophets ; and, on the 
other hand, his peculiar characteristics were not among 
those foretold by them. He said the Supreme One, seeing 
the world in such hopeless confusion, and having compas- 
sion on the many nations who had no knowledge of him- 
self, or even of Jehovah, but who were nevertheless threat- 
ened with destruction for disobeying laws of which many 
of them had never heard, resolved, in his infinite mercy, 
to make a revelation of himself, and call the whole human 
race to a high destiny. Being entirely unknown to men, 
he could not introduce himself to them in any other way, 
than by assuming a human form. He was not born of 
woman, not even apparently ; and he was not clothed in 
human flesh ; for that would have been contrary to the 
laws of the universe, and unworthy of a God of purity. 
He quitte'd his celestial abode, invisibly traversed the 
sphere where Jehovah dwelt, and suddenly appeared in 
the synagogue of the Jews at Capernaum, in the fifteenth 
year of Tiberius Caesar. He announced himself as the Son 
of God, the Christ, the Eedeemer. He discountenanced 
their strictness in outward observances, reproved their 
faith in traditions, encouraged those who, like himself, were 
elevated above the Law, taught an entirely new system of 
morals, and called all people, the Jews included, to happi- 
ness not merely terrestrial, but heavenly and eternal. "He 
preached a God who had never before been known, either 
to the Gentiles by nature, or to the Jews by revelation." 
To sustain this assertion, Marcion quoted his saying: "No 
man knoweth the Father but the Son." 

As Christ had only the appearance of a human bod}^, of 
course he could only appear to die. Marcion considered 
his redemption of mankind to mean nothing more than en- 
franchisement from the limitations of the old Law, and the 
introduction of high and universal laws. After his appa- 
rent death, being touched with compassion for the past 


generations of men, he went into the regions where existed 
those departed souls, who had been rewarded by Jehovah, 
or punished by him. To all of them he preached the Un- 
known God. Those who were enjoying the rewards of 
Jehovah were contented with their condition, and rejected 
his teaching; but those who were suffering, heard him 
eagerly. Cain and his descendants, who had perished in 
the Deluge, the Sodomites, and the Egyptians, who had 
been so severely punished, were led by him into celestial 

Above all other Gnostics, Marcion was characterized by 
inveterate aversion to Jewish institutions. This appears 
to have been, in a great measure, the result of exceeding 
spirituality, leading him to despise and condemn every 
thing external and temporal. He wrote a book to prove 
the complete antithesis between the Hebrew religion, and 
that of Christians. He would not admit that they had 
any thing in common, or that they were taught by the 
same Deity. He said the God revealed by Christ was in- 
capable of change, full of love, compassion, and forgive- 
ness. But Jehovah was jealous, vindictive, cruel, and 
arbitrary, and manifested his weakness by repenting of 
things he had done. So far from having sent Jesus on 
earth, he considered him incapable of understanding his 
character or mission, as trying to impede it in every way, 
and being in all respects his adversary. To prove this, he 
quoted Paul's words : "In whom the God of this world 
hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the 
light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of 
God, should shine unto them." This passage was supposed 
to give him so much the advantage in controversy, that 
Irenseus and Tertullian were for putting a comma after 
God, and straining the sentence to mean " God had blinded 
the minds of the unbelievers of this world." Marcion said 
the Messiah, whom Jehovah had promised to the Jews, 
would certainly come, sooner or later, and gather his par- 
tisans together in Palestine, where they would enjoy the 
earthly felicity so much coveted by their external natures. 


He urged it as a proof of the very limited nature of Jeho- 
vah, that he did not know where Adam was, and whether 
he had transgressed his commands ; but had need to in- 
quire : " Where art thou ? Hast thou eaten of the tree ?" 
As proof that he was not the All Good Being, he alleged 
that he declared to his prophet, Isaiah : " I create dark- 
ness, and I create evil." Believing the Hebrew Scriptures 
to be dictated by Jehovah, or his Angels, he, of course, 
considered them exceedingly imperfect. He said Christ 
spoke of them as old bottles, that would burst as soon as 
the new wine of his doctrines was poured into them ; and 
that Paul described them as the letter which killeth, while 
he called the teaching of Christ the spirit that maketh 

At that period, almost every new sect made a Gospel to 
suit its own theories, or mutilated and patched together 
those already in use. Marcion did not produce any book 
professing to be a new revelation, as did many of the 
Gnostics. He did not wish to embellish Christianity with 
any Egyptian, Persian, or Grecian ornaments; for he 
maintained that no system, religious or philosophical, had 
ever approached it in excellence. But he asserted that the 
Scriptures had been changed ; and he thought it was his 
mission to restore them to their primitive purity. With 
his oriental ideas of Matter, he could not be otherwise than 
offended with the general expectation that Christ would 
come again in the flesh, and establish an earthly kingdom. 
He was particularly disgusted with the unspiritual pictures 
of the millennium, which some of the Christian Fathers de- 
lighted to sketch, and which they thought were sustained 
by Jewish and apostolic writings. Believing himself to be 
enlightened by the divine Gnosis, he refused to adopt any 
thing that appeared to him at variance with the character 
of the Universal Father. He maintained that the Apostles 
were imperfect mediums of the truth ; that they were full 
of Jewish prejudices, and, therefore, incapable of under- 
standing the elevated and comprehensive teaching of 
Christ, or of representing him correctly. In support of 


this view, he quoted the saying of Jesus : "I have many 
things to tell you, but you can not bear them now." The 
Fathers, in controversy with him, admitted that the Apos- 
tles perceived only fragments of truth, while Jesus was 
with them, but contended that they perfectly compre- 
hended all truth after the Holy Spirit descended upon 
them. Marcion went still further, and alleged that the 
Apostolic Fathers had altered the imperfect writings they 
had received. Upon that ground, he rejected a large por- 
tion of the collection. In compiling what he called The 
Gospel of the Lord, he principally made use of the writings 
of Luke. But he struck out the first two chapters, con- 
cerning the miraculous conception, and the circumcision 
of Jesus. He likewise omitted every indication of Christ's 
conformity to Jewish institutions ; also the sanction of a wed- 
ding by his presence, and furnishing the guests with wine. 
The Fathers say that he even erased the beautiful text : 
" For your Heavenly Father maketh his sun to shine on the 
evil and the good, and causeth his rain to fall upon the 
just and the unjust." He omitted this, because the sun 
and rain were mere material blessings, which it belonged 
to Jehovah to dispense, but which were altogether beneath 
the notice of the Supreme Being. His opponents alleged 
that "he was directed by his opinions ; that he first formed 
a system, and then arranged a Gospel to suit it." Tertullian 
says: "I maintain that my Gospel of Luke is the true 
copy ; Marcion says that his is so. I affirm that his copy 
is adulterated ; he says that mine is so." He adds that his 
own copy was the more ancient one, and that Marcion 
himself for some time received it. From the acknow- 
ledged character of Marcion, it does not seem likely that 
he consciously practised fraud in making alterations. Be- 
lieving himself freed from the letter, and guided by the 
Spirit, he might have done it with all honesty of purpose. 
Moreover, it should be remembered that there is no exist- 
ing copy of his Gospel, and all the accounts we have of it 
are contained in the writings of his theological opponents. 
Marcion was a strict moralist, and of a very devotional 
Vol. II.— 13* 


turn of mind. He seems to have been actuated by an 
earnest and sincere conviction that he was restoring the 
doctrines of primitive Christianity. He made frequent 
journeys, and spent his life in continual controversies with 
philosophers and Christians. The dislike he encountered 
was painful to him, but it never tempted him to conceal 
or modify his opinions. He looked upon this world as a 
scene of perpetual conflict, and was accustomed to call his 
disciples " fellow sufferers." His habits were exceedingly 
ascetic ; for he considered it the chief object of life to mor- 
tify the body. It was a rule with his sect to eat and drink 
merely enough to sustain existence. They fasted often, 
and lived principally on bread, water, milk, honey, and oil. 
They never tasted meat, but sometimes ate a little fish, 
citing the example of Jesus as authority. They abjured 
marriage, and admitted none but the perfectly chaste to 
partake of the Lord's Supper ; the reception of which they 
believed communicated the Spirit of God. Their manners 
were habitually grave, and their dress very plain. The men 
cut off their hair, regarding it as of no use to the soul. 
They despised all shows and amusements, and everything 
intended to please the eye, the ear, or any of the senses. 
They taught that there was no merit in any actions, except 
those which were done purely for the love of God. They 
generally led very blameless lives, and their virtues were 
acknowledged even by those who most strenuously de- 
nounced their doctrines. Though Christians refused to 
acknowledge them as brethren, they had such reverence 
for the character and doctrines of Christ, as they under- 
stood them, that many of them endured martyrdom in 
their defence. 

The sect of Marcionites increased rapidly, and became 
very numerous. The great number of books written 
against them in the second century shows the prevalence 
of their doctrines. They had many societies in Egypt, 
Persia, Arabia, Palestine, Syria, Italy, and other places. 
There was a long succession of Marcionite bishops. Theo- 
doret, Bishop of Cyprus, so late as the middle of the fifth 


century, says he found a million of Marcionites in his 
diocese, whom he converted. They continued to be ob- 
jects of persecution as late as the sixth century, when they 
disappeared from history, 

Carpocrates. — Carpocrates, who flourished near the 
middle of the second century, was an Alexandrian, said to 
have been educated in Christianity. He was nearly co tem- 
porary with Basilides, and taught similar theories concerning 
emanations, though in a much simpler form. His doctrine 
concerning Christ was peculiar. He did not regard him as 
the first emanation from God, but as a mere man, the son 
of Joseph and Mary. Being imbued with the Oriental and 
Platonic ideas concerning the preexistence of all souls, he 
explained the superior wisdom and power of Jesus, by at- 
tributing to him a clearness of reminiscence above all other 
men ; so that he remembered more perfectly what he had 
seen with the Supreme One, before he descended through 
the spiritual spheres, and at last entered a human body. 
The celestial types of things, which remained in his memory, 
led him to the most sublime contemplations, by means of 
which he united himself with the Supreme Being, and be- 
came one with Him. All men who attained to such union 
were believed to share the power of the Supreme, and to 
be thus enabled to accomplish supernatural things. It was 
by this means that Jesus performed miracles, supplanted 
the religion taught to the Jews by their imperfect Deity, 
and revealed a Grod of infinite benevolence and purity. 
Another and prominent part of his mission was supposed 
to be to free men from external laws, and enable them to 
be guided solely by the interior light of the Gnosis, or 
Divine Science. The Carpocratians, in common with other 
Gnostics, did not consider this intuitive wisdom as their 
own peculiar possession. They believed it had been im- 
parted, in a greater or less degree, to the wise and good of 
all ages and nations. Abraham, Moses, Pythagoras, Plato, 
and Jesus, had all been enlightened and guided by the 
Gnosis. Those who were habitually under its influence 


were freed from the laws of this world, from external cere- 
monies, from all that the populace regarded as religion. 
Thej were raised above all sublunary considerations, and 
became calm and unalterable, like Grod. All human souls 
being preexistent, it was supposed that all might become 
as holy as Jesus, and do the same things, or even greater, 
if they despised external things more than he did. Some 
of this sect thought they had attained to a spiritual state 
far above the Apostles, and on an equality with Christ. 
The idea of expiation by blood they regarded as a gross 
superstition. The physical agonies of Jesus had no rela- 
tion to his mission ; they were like the sufferings of an in- 
nocent child, who merely shares the common lot of human 
nature. The doctrine of the fall of man, and of original 
sin, was rejected by them. They thought beings in this 
world were merely inferior in degree to those of the upper 
spheres ; fettered by their connection with Matter, but not 
wicked. All religions ceremonies, including vocal prayer, 
and all that Christians generally called good works, they 
considered as external and indifferent things. Those who 
attached importance to such forms, they regarded as still 
under subjection to those inferior Spirits, who had estab- 
lished the religious and civil institutions of nations. Being 
slaves to those subordinate Deities during their human 
lives, they would still continue to be so after death ; they 
could never raise themselves above their imperfect masters. 
It was only by contemplating Grod, by faith, and charity 
toward others, that men could attain to a calm and serene 
holiness in this world, and to the felicity of the Supreme 
in the next. 

This sect occupied themselves but little with abstruse 
discussions, or spiritual genealogies. They were very nu- 
merous, and consisted of various branches. They venerated 
images of Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Plato, Jesus, Carpocrates, 
and others, whom they regarded as great teachers, and as 
common benefactors of mankind. Hebrew Sacred Books 
they considered as the work of inferior Spirits. Of the 
Christian Scriptures, they accepted only the Gospel by 


Matthew ; which must, of course, have been without the 
first two chapters. 

The system of Carpocrates was developed to its extreme 
results by his sou Epiphanes, a youth of distinguished 
talent. He said there was but one law, the Law of Nature ; 
and that law taught the community and unity of all things. 
Laws regulating marriage and property he regarded as in- 
fringements on the great principles of nature, and only 
calculated to make men selfish and hostile to each other. 
He therefore inculcated community of wives and of worldly 
goods. Though he lived but seventeen years, he gained 
such influence over the minds of many, that in Cephalonia 
they paid divine honours to his memory, erected a large 
temple, and consecrated altars and chapels to him. At the 
New Moon, they came together from all the neighbouring 
regions, and celebrated his birth, and elevation among the 
gods, with hymns, garlands, libations, and banquets. 

Bardesanes. — Bardesanes was born near Edessa, in 
Syria, in the latter part of the second century. He was 
educated in Christianity, and always cherished devout 
reverence for its precepts. He had great aversion to all 
forms of polytheistic worship, but was strongly attached to 
Grecian philosophy. Born on the confines of Syria and 
Mesopotamia, he was at the confluence of Persian, Jewish, 
Grecian, and Christian doctrines. He thus became well 
versed in Chaldean astrology, and in the traditions of 
various nations, all of which were received into an earnest 
soul, naturally ardent and imaginative. He reduced to 
writing certain communications made by ambassadors from 
India to the philosophers who accompanied Lucius Yerus 
in his travels to the East. In these Commentaries on India 
he described anchorites, and religious communities, in the 
forests of Btindostan, who merely endured life as a neces- 
sary bondage to nature, and were in haste to have their 
souls freed from the body. He said they were divided 
into two sects, Bramins and Samaneans ; [either Jains or 
Buddhists,] that one had an hereditary priesthood, and 


the other elected theirs. Any one who chose that mode 
of life was at liberty to join the Samaneans. When he 
resolved upon taking such a step, he left his wife and 
family, divested himself of all worldly possessions, shaved 
his head, and joined one of the religious communities, 
where they fed on bread and herbs, lived entirely apart 
from women, and were frequently summoned to prayer. 
He says they were held in such reverence for sanctity, that 
kings often visited them, to obtain advice and ask their 

Bardesanes was religious by temperament, sincerely de- 
voted to Christianity, and an eloquent pleader in its behalf, 
even when the persecuting decrees of Marcus Aurelius were 
in full force. His uncommon talent and exemplary char- 
acter rendered him of importance ; and he was urged in the 
name of Lucius Yerus, the emperor's colleague, to renounce 
Christianity, at a time when it was perilous to refuse. He 
replied: "I do not fear death; I know very well that I 
cannot avoid it, even by yielding to the emperor." He 
preached against Marcion's system, but subsequently be- 
came a Gnostic, and chief of a numerous sect. In his time 
doctrines were not defined with much precision, and. at the 
beginning, he uttered his own convictions without intend- 
ing, or expecting, to produce any schism in the church. 
He admitted the sacredness of both Jewish and Christian 
Scriptures ; and also of many other writings then reveren- 
tially received, but afterward decided to be apocryphal. 
But to all these he gave mystical and allegorical interpre- 
tations, like Philo and the Cabalists. 

At the head of all things, he placed the unknown Father, 
dwelling in the Pleroma, or Fulness of Light, and happy 
in his own perfect purity. Matter, co-eternal with him, 
was a dark inert mass, the source of all evil, and the mother 
of Satan. Like the Cabalists, he supposed that the first 
emanation from the Supreme was his feminine companion 
Sophia, [Wisdom.] From them proceeded seven su& 
cessive couples of emanations. At the head of them all 
was Christ, the first-born Son of God, and his sister and 


spouse, named Sophia Achamoth ; which signifies the 
Lower Wisdom. 

This last character is conspicuous in the system of Bar- 
desanes, and seems to be the embodiment of a complicated 
idea. In one aspect, she is presented as a Presiding Intel- 
ligence, like the Spirits of the planets. In the religious 
sense, she seems to be the same as the Holy Ghost in 
Christian theology, who was always represented as feminine 
by some sects of. Judaizing Christians. In the physical 
order, she apparently represents the Platonic Soul of the 
World, which could be brought into relations with Matter, 
and thus produce visible forms. From Christ and herself 
proceeded Spirits of the Elements. With their assistance 
she formed the world; and being greatly captivated by the 
terrestrial beauties thus produced, she remained a long time 
brooding over Matter, at a distance from Christ, her celestial 
mate. But, at last, she began to feel within herself some- 
thing superior to all that surrounded her, and she was filled 
with longing to be restored to the spheres of light, whence 
she had descended. Her long connection with material 
things made it difficult ; but Christ, perceiving her efforts 
to rise, came to her assistance. He did not force her to act 
as he would have acted himself; he left her at liberty, but 
sought to lure her upward. She saw in him the perfect 
image of Celestial Light, and loved him with her whole 
being. Through paths of purification he tenderly guided 
her to her heavenly home, where she was finally re-united 
with him. Bardesanes, in one of his hymns, commemorates 
this spiritual consummation under the imagery of a sublime, 
mysterious marriage, celebrated by a banquet. Human 
souls, who received the divine gift of the Gnosis, could 
raise themselves toward regions of light, and finally become 
united to Sophia Achamoth, as she was united with Christ. 
The disciples of Bardesanes were accustomed to express 
their aspirations for this holy union in the following prayer, 
addressed to the Divine Sophia, Mother of Christ, and of 
Sophia Achamoth : " May we assist at thy banquet, con- 
template thy guests the Angels, and thy daughter Sophia 


Achamoth, whom thou holdest upon thy knees, loading her 
with caresses, and charming her with songs." Prayers were 
often addressed to this Divine Mother of the Universe, sup- 
posed to dwell with her mate, the Supreme Father, in the 
Pleroma, or eighth Sphere of Light. At the moment 
of baptism this prayer was repeated : " Come, Mother 
of Mercy ! Come, thou Mother, who revealest hidden 
mysteries! that we may attain to repose in the eighth 

Bardesanes adopted the Persian doctrine of a perpetual 
struggle for supremacy between the Supreme and Satan, 
with Spirits of Light on one side, and Spirits of Darkness 
on the other. Human souls were Spirits, who had trans- 
gressed the laws of the Supreme Father, and thus become 
imprisoned in material bodies, by the law of affinities, evil 
to evil. In this condition, the race of mortals gradually 
lost all knowledge of their high origin. Many Spirits had 
been sent, from time to time, to give them laws. At last, 
Christ, the Son of the Supreme, descended upon earth, to 
open to them the perspective of their heavenly destiny, 
and relieve them from the heavy burdens which weighed 
upon their life. He had not a body of flesh, but a celestial 
form, the same in which he appeared as an Angel to the 
patriarchs ; therefore he could not suffer death, but only 
appeared to die. Having fulfilled his benevolent mission, 
he ascended to his Father. 

Bardesanes supposed that the material world was in- 
trusted to Spirits residing in the Planets, and in the Con- 
stellations of the Zodiac. They caused abundance or 
famine, storms or fine weather ; thus they had great power 
over the destinies of men. But, like everything else In the 
universe, these Spirits were subject to the will of the Su- 
preme Father. -No beings could resist his will. If they 
appeared to do so, it was because he, in his goodness, 
granted each one that which was proper to his nature, and 
to his individual will. The Spirits of the Stars had power 
only over man's exterior nature, by which he lived in rela- 
tions with the material world ; such as hunger, disease, and 


death. His rational soul, being an emanation from the 
Supreme, was above all natural laws. There was no re- 
surrection of the body : the soul, once freed from its prison, 
could never enter it again. 

Bardesanes composed a hundred and fifty hymns, said 
to have been remarkable for musical rhythm, and glowing 
poetic imagery. Through these attractive channels he 
spread abroad the mystical ideas, he had brought from the 
great storehouse of doctrines, with which his learning had 
made him acquainted. Being of a musical temperament, 
he himself trained the young people to sing the devotional 
songs, which might be heard everywhere in the Syrian 
churches, and wherever the devout were assembled. Har- 
monius, his son, composed hymns embodying similar ideas, 
and said to have been still more beautiful. They also were 
in all hearts, and might be heard from all tuneful lips. 

This sect had numerous adherents ; but they always en- 
deavoured to avoid a schism with the Christian church, to 
which they were sincerely attached. By successive efforts 
at conformity, they gradually lost their distinctive traits, 
and scarcely any traces of them can be discovered in the 
fifth century. But the fame of Bardesanes remained con- 
spicuous among his cotemporaries. His rare eloquence was 
long remembered ; his character was venerated, and his 
devotional poetry sung in Christian churches, many years 
after he and his followers were excluded from orthodox 

Yalentinians. — Yalentinus, a learned and eloquent 
man, of Jewish origin, was educated in Alexandria, in the 
second century. He taught a system resembling that of 
Bardesanes in its general features, but very much more 
complicated.. He had enthusiastic disciples, especially in 
Rome and Cyprus. They respected the Hebrew Sacred 
Books, and were accustomed to sustain their theories by 
allegories and symbols drawn from them. The Fathers 
speak of them as the most numerous and the most fanatical 
of all the Gnostic sects. 
Vol. II.— 34 


Ophites. — The Ophites, supposed to have originated in 
Alexandria, received their name from Ophis, the Greek 
word for Serpent, because that emblem was conspicuous in 
their worship. Their theory of emanations was about the 
same as that of the Yalentinians, with the exception of the 
formation of a Spirit named Jesus. They considered the 
Creator of the world a very inferior Spirit, and the pre- 
siding Deity of the Jews. They despised his Mosaic Laws, 
and. the external character of the Messiah he promised. 
They said he forbade man to eat of the tree of knowledge 
merely out of jealousy, because he knew it would reveal 
valuable mysteries, and confer upon him power from on 
high. But Sophia Achamoth, mother of the Creator, who 
was always counteracting his efforts against the human 
race, sent a Spirit in the form of a serpent, to induce Adam 
to disobey his command. The Creator, finding man en- 
abled to rise to spheres above himself, by the assistance 
of Sophia and other guiding Spirits, cast an angry glance 
into the depths of Matter, and an image of envy and hate 
was reflected there, in a tortuous form; and that was 

Christ was the guide and saviour of all that appertained 
to the spiritual spheres. The imperfect Sophia Achamoth 
governed and protected all that was connected with Matter. 
The perfect came to the aid of the imperfect, and attracted 
upward all who wished to follow the light. At the inter- 
cession of Sophia, Christ descended on the man Jesus at 
his baptism, and by uniting with him enabled him to reveal 
the true God, and to work miracles. The Creator seeing 
his worship in danger of being abolished, instigated the 
Jews to crucify him. The Christ departed from him dur- 
ing his sufferings, but afterward re-animated him, and gave 
him an serial body ; and that was the reason his disciples 
did not know him. In this form, Jesus remained on earth 
eighteen months, and by means of Sophia received the true 
Gnosis, which he communicated to a small number of Apos- 
tles, who were capable of receiving it. Then he ascended 
through the seven Planetary Spheres to the Pleroma, 


whither he attracted all souls who loved the light. "When 
Spirit was entirely separated from Matter, the redemption 
would be complete, and the world would be consumed. 

They said the Hebrew Books contained very few and 
imperfect revelations from Sophia, and that the prophets, 
who predicted a Messiah, had no conception of the true 
Christ. They believed there had been degrees of revela- 
tion imparted to thinking men of all nations. They re- 
garded that of Jesus Christ as superior to all others ; but 
they said it had been altered by his disciples, who were 
never capable of comprehending him. The Ophites had 
several books which they reverenced as revelations of 
spiritual truth, suited to the initiated. Some of them they 
ascribed to Adam, others to the Patriarchs. 

They were a numerous and celebrated sect, and divided 
into various branches. One branch of them was charac- 
terized by extreme strictness. They prescribed absolute 
chastity, abstemious diet, frequent fasts, and abstinence 
from all pleasures of the senses. Others, imbued with the 
same contempt for the body, regarded its actions of no con- 
sequence, and gave themselves up to the greatest excesses. 
One branch, called the Sethites, were of Jewish origin. 
They did not combat Judaism, and recognized both patri- 
archs and prophets as servants of the true God. They 
thought Seth was the son of Sophia, who had filled him 
with the divine Gnosis, and that his descendants were a 
spiritual race. Afterward, when Evil Spirits were bring- 
ing everything into confusion, Sophia again sent her son 
Seth into the world, in the form of Jesus, to save mankind. 
They attributed to her all that was good and pure in the 
inferior worlds. 

In extreme opposition to the Sethites were the Cainites, 
the greatest enemies of Jewish institutions, and the most 
daring of all the Gnostics in maintaining that the spirit 
was independent of all acts of the -body. Cain, Dathan, 
Abiram, the inhabitants of Sodom, and all who suffered 
by the judgments of Jehovah, they regarded as a superior 
race of men, the true family of Sophia, and therefore per- 


secuted by him. The Hebrew Sacred Books, being insti- 
gated by such an inferior Spirit as Jehovah, contained no 
high revelations. The Gospels and Epistles used bj Chris- 
tians were mere appendages of Judaism, and explained very 
badly either the true history, or the true doctrines of Christ. 
The majority of the Apostles were blinded by Judaism. 
Judas was the only spiritual one among them. Sophia had 
imparted to him the divine Gnosis, so that he comprehended 
the true relations between the superior and the inferior 
worlds. He knew that the empire of Jehovah would be 
destroyed by the death of Jesus ; and it was to bring about 
that desirable result, that he betrayed him. These facts 
were established in the Gospel of Judas, the only true 
Gospel • and it was in the possession of the Cainites, who 
regarded themselves as the only true Christians. 

Marcus. — Marcus, from Palestine, avoided the objection 
brought against many of the Gnostic sects, that the doc- 
trine of masculine and feminine emanations, in couples, 
conveyed sensual ideas. He said when the Father wished 
to manifest himself, he uttered a Word of four letters, and 
each letter became a Spiritual Being. The first and 
highest was the Logos, who included in himself all the at- 
tributes of the Supreme. This Logos was the Christ, who 
came on earth to free men from the entanglements of their 
material being. The second word uttered by the Father 
produced four other Spirits ; the third word, being of ten 
letters, produced ten ; and the fourth produced twelve. 
God imparted to each Spirit as much truth as his nature 
was capable of receiving. Marcus, being in full unquali- 
fied possession of the Gnosis, to him all truth was revealed. 
The Marcosians were in the habit of administering two 
baptisms. By the first, they believed men were purified 
from sins; by the second, they attained perfection, and 
were brought into full communion with the Pleroma. By 
this second baptism, the soul was supposed to be united 
to its other half in the spiritual world, its Archetype, or 
Angel ; what Greeks were accustomed to call a man's 


Genius, or Demon ; therefore they celebrated the last bap- 
tism like a wedding, and the room where the ceremony- 
took place was decorated like a bridal chamber. They 
anointed the dead, and pronounced a form of prayer, that 
the departed soul might rise to its Mother Sophia, unim- 
peded by Evil Spirits. 

Manx — The most celebrated of all names among the 
Gnostics is that of Mani, said to have been born in Persia, 
in the year two hundred and thirty-nine. In early life, he 
met with a collection of books called The Treasury of 
Mysteries, purporting to have been written by an Egyp- 
tian, and to have been introduced into Persia by one of 
the author's disciples, called Buddas • whom tradition de- 
clared to have been born of a virgin. These books which 
were doubtless connected with the religion of Bouddha, 
took strong hold of Mani's impressible soul. Having come 
into possession of them by the death of their original 
owner, he made them the foundation of a new theological 
system, to which he soon gained adherents. He is said to 
have been of the class of the Magi, and well versed in the 
knowledge of his age and nation. He was acquainted with 
astronomy and mathematics, and had made a globe. He 
was also considered skilful in medicine, and had the gene- 
ral reputation of a wise man. The king of Persia im- 
prisoned him. Some say it was because his son died after 
being intrusted to his medical care ; others that it was on 
the charge of teaching things contrary to the Magian doc- 
trines. While he was in prison, one of his disciples 
brought him some of the Christian writings. His eager 
mind seized hold of them with avidity, and grafted them 
upon his previous theories. He persuaded himself that he 
was the Paraclete, or Comforter, promised by Christ ; that 
he was sent to purge Christianity from Jewish imperfec- 
tions, and from errors which the clergy had introduced, 
and to preach a new mysterious doctrine, too elevated to 
have been revealed to the Apostles. Having escaped from 
prison, he spent some time in a cave, where he thought he 
Vol. II.— 34* 


received special revelations. He afterward went into 
Mesopotamia, where he began to preach his doctrines to 
the Christians. Like Zoroaster, he thought that there was 
a perpetual conflict between Spirits of Light and of Dark- 
ness, the Chiefs of which ruled the world between them. 
But he did not teach that there was One Supreme Source, 
from which all these Spirits emanated. The Good God 
lived in resplendent Light. All pure things proceeded 
from him, and were under his dominion. The Evil God 
dwelt among Shadows and Darkness. He was the Spirit of 
Matter, and governed all sensual and evil things. The Good 
was superior, and must eventually conquer ; though after 
prolonged and terrible struggles. From him emanated a 
long series of Spirits, all portions of himself, sharers of his 
majesty and glory, and co-workers with him in various de- 
partments, to subdue the Spirits of Evil. The Satan of 
Matter had also his legion of Spirits, emanating from his 
essence, and subservient to his orders. Bat harmony did not 
prevail among Spirits of Darkness, as it did among Spirits of 
Light. There were dissensions among them, and the de- 
feated faction withdrew to the extreme verge of their 
dominions. An interior feeling attracted Satan toward the 
kingdom of Light, of which he had caught a distant 
glimpse. His legions, being ravished by its beauty, wished 
to conquer it. The Good God, seeing Darkness about to 
invade his brilliant spheres, produced a being called the 
Mother of Life, and placed her on the frontiers, to protect 
his kingdom from the Evil Powers. She was too pure to 
come in contact with Matter, but she produced a son, 
called the Primeval Man, who was fitted for the work. 
His name and mission seem like a repetition of the Cabal- 
istic ideas concerning Adam Kadman, the Immortal 
Adam. In his contests with the Powers of Darkness, they 
so far succeeded as to drag down a portion of his Light. 
He himself would have fallen into the realm of Shadows, 
had not the Good God created the Holy Spirit who was 
sent to rescue him. The Prince of Darkness, fearing the 
celestial Light would escape from him, resolved to create 


material forms, in which it could be imprisoned. His 
legions had been struck with the radiant beauty of the 
Primeval Man, whom they had seen high above them, in 
the regions of the sun. Their Chief said to them : " It 
behoves you to give up to me all the light you have ; from 
it I will make an image of that lofty one, who appeared so 
glorious : through which we shall be able to rule, and one 
day liberate ourselves from our abode in darkness." After 
long deliberation, they complied with his proposal. Ac- 
cordingly, he created Adam ; who Mani says was called 
the Son of Man because he was made of a portion of the 
Primeval Heavenly Man. His body was formed of opaque 
Matter, and had a soul in affinity with it, the seat of the 
passions ; within them both was a more excellent soul, 
formed of the heavenly Light they had stolen. He was 
thus closely allied with the Good and the Evil Powers. 
Contrary to the expectation of his Creator, the interior 
soul proved too strong for its envelopment, and seemed 
likely to free itself. In vain he strove to attract it to the 
earth, by surrounding it with a Paradise of material beau- 
ty. The tendency was ever upward. He was obliged to 
forbid Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge of Good and 
Evil, lest he should learn how to escape from the Evil and 
unite with the Good. But an Angel of Light was sent to 
induce him to disobey the command, and to give him a 
promise of victory. Then the Spirits of Darkness, to 
maintain their power over Adam, created Eve. She was 
of an inferior nature, because the celestial fire had been 
used up to make the soul of man. But she was surpas- 
ingly beautiful, and, for her sake, the soul of Adam was 
content to remain imprisoned in his body. The sensual 
principle triumphed over the divine ; an imperfect race of 
beings was propagated, and the Primeval Light, thus 
divided among many souls, was more feebly attracted 
toward its Source. All human beings shared the mixed 
nature of their ancestor. But some had a larger infusion 
of the ethereal essence, and were consequently more power- 
fully drawn toward the heavenly regions whence that 


essence was derived. Others received a greater portion of 
the sensuous soul, which came from the Evil Powers, and 
thus had a proclivity toward earthly things. As the gen- 
erations of men increased, the interior soul lost much of its 
original power by continual division and immersion in 
Matter. The Prince of Darkness turned men from the 
worship of the Good God, by means of false prophets, and 
the religion of the Jews. Some of the most daring of the 
Evil Spirits had been seized by the Good, and chained to 
the stars. These malignant demons exercised the most 
disastrous influence over human affairs, sending down 
upon the earth, storm, pestilence, and famine, and inducing 
men to worship them through fear. To extricate human 
souls from the imprisonment of Matter, and thus restore 
the stolen light to its celestial origin was the constant 
effort of all the Heavenly Powers. Christ, the first ema- 
nation from the Good God, had his residence in the Sun. 
His Father, seeing mankind ever more and more involved 
in trouble, sent him on earth, to withdraw the Celestial 
Light from its dense environment of Shadows, and thus 
release captive souls. Of course, the Pure Light could not 
unite with Darkness, as he must have done to have been 
born of a woman. He only appeared to have a human 
body, and took the name of the Messiah merely to accom- 
modate himself to the expectations of the Jews. Mani 
considered this doctrine proved by the fact that Jesus 
passed untouched among a crowd of Jews, who would 
have stoned him ; and he regarded his transfiguration as 
merely a revelation to his disciples of his true form of 
celestial Light. The world did not accept or understand 
him ; because " the light shone in darkness, and the dark- 
ness comprehended it not." But he turned some Jews 
from the worship of a jealous and tyrannical God, and in- 
duced many among polytheistic nations to cease their 
adoration of Evil Spirits, chained to the stars. The 
Prince of Darkness, alarmed for the permanence of his 
empire, instigated the Jews to crucify him. But as he had 
no human body, he only appeared to die ; and by so doing 


offered to all souls the symbol of their enfranchisement, 
by death to this world. His form having disappeared 
from the earth, there remained in its place a Cross of 
Light, from which a celestial voice proclaimed these 
words : " The Cross of Light is called the Logos, the 
Christ, the sun, the door, the joy, the bread, the resurrec- 
tion, the life, the truth, the grace." But these symbols 
were only given for the sake of the multitude ; the elect 
few, who attained to the intuitive science called Gnosis, 
had no need of them. Christ, having returned to his 
abode in the sun, powerfully attracted toward him the 
Spirits imprisoned in material bodies. He increased their 
strivings to return to their home of light, and assisted 
them in all their efforts. All souls were capable of par- 
ticipation in his redemption, and might be restored through 
various processes of purification. 

The Manicheans were divided into two classes. Those 
whose souls were endowed with a larger infusion of the 
Principle of Light were the Elect; but the great majority 
belonged to the class called Auditors. From these last, 
the higher mysteries of their religion were concealed, and 
they were instructed merely by allegories and symbols. 
They married, and supported their families by labour. 
They were taught to rejoice in poverty, to abstain from all 
luxuries and amusements, to regard war and righting as 
sinful, and to reverence life in its minutest forms. There- 
fore they killed no animals but vermin, whose life they 
believed was derived from Evil Spirits. 

The Elect constituted a priestly order, and were regarded 
as mediums of communication between this earth and the 
Realms of Light. They held no property, and performed 
no labour, because it brought them into contact with ma- 
terial things,- for material purposes. They abhorred mar- 
riage, as an institution of the Devil, to propagate an imper- 
fect race, that their bodies might keep the pure Light in 
captivity. They devoted themselves entirely to devout 
contemplation, and the spiritual instruction of others. All 
officers of the society were chosen from their order, and 


their commands were obeyed with the utmost reverence. 
The Auditors provided them with everything necessary 
for subsistence. Every act of kindness to them was re- 
garded as something toward expiating any sins they might 
have committed; such as tasting of meat, or carelessly 
neglecting to spare the life of some animal. Among Hin- 
doos and Buddhists, there was the same idea that benefits 
conferred on holy men procured remission of sins. The 
Elect also copied those devotees in strict chastity, absti- 
nence from meat, wine, and every pleasure of the senses. 
They lived on fruit and vegetables, and drank water only. 
Some of them considered even the bath objectionable, as 
bestowing too much care upon the body. They never 
harmed an animal, pulled an herb, or plucked fruit. They 
particularly disliked husbandry, because it involved the 
continual wounding of plants and insects. They some- 
times wept to see vegetables gathered for food ; because 
"in them also there was a certain portion of life, which 
was a part of the Deity." They had an idea that fruit and 
vegetables became purified when eaten by the saints. Au- 
gustine says : " When a fig was plucked, they believed the 
tree, its mother, shed milky tears. Yet if eaten by some 
Manichean saint, he would breathe out of it angels ; yea, 
there should burst forth particles of divinity at every moan 
or groan in his prayer ; which particles of the Most High 
and True God had remained bound in that fig, unless they 
had been thus set at liberty by some of the Elect saints. 
And I, miserable, believed that more mercy was to be 
shown to the fruits of the earth, than to men, for whom 
/hose fruits were created. For if any one not a Manichean 
tvas hungry, and asked for a fig, the fruit would be con- 
demned to capital punishment, as it were, if given to him." 
Jerome says : " Mani asserts that his Elect are free from all 
sin ; that they could not sin, if they would." Proselytes 
who practised rigid self-denial, and loved to meditate on 
religious subjects, were thought to give evidence that their 
souls had a large endowment of the pure light, and thus 
possessed holiness as a birthright. After going through 


suitable probation, they were received among the Elect. 
Mani aimed at teaching a strict system of morals, and even 
the enemies of his sect acknowledged that their conduct 
was generally exemplary. 

A pure and holy life, by abstracting the soul from the 
senses, rendered it worthy, after death, to ascend to the re- 
gions of the moon, where during fifteen days it was purified 
in a great lake ; thence it passed to the regions of the sun, 
where it was purified by fire. Through these ordeals, it 
gained admission to the presence of Christ, who dwelt in 
the sun, surrounded by sanctified Spirits, who had been 
redeemed through his influence. The souls thus happily 
released from the thraldom of Matter, had no remembrance 
of the bodies they had quitted. Wicked and sensual souls 
were obliged to enter other bodies, and begin another career 
for purification. At last, there would come a time when 
Spirit would be entirely withdrawn from Matter, which 
would then be consumed by fire, and reduced to a dark in- 
ert mass, was before the world was made. Evil Spirits 
would be confined to their own realms, and remain there 
forever. The least perfect souls would be stationed on 
the frontier of the Eealm of Light, to keep watch over the 
extinguished mass of Matter, and prevent the two from 
mingling again. This was a departure from Zoroaster, who 
taught that even the Prince of Evil would finally worship 
the Grood, and be admitted to his spheres of glory. 

The worship of the Manicheans was extremely simple. 
They had no temples, images, or altars. They prayed with 
faces turned toward the sun, and sang hymns to the Prin- 
ciple of Light. Mani appointed twelve apostles to preside 
over the sect; and this constitution continued after his 
death, with the addition of a thirteenth at the head of them 
all, to represent him. Subordinate to them were bishops, 
presbyters, and deacons. These were called brethren by the 
others, and lived on terms of perfect equality with them. 
They celebrated Sunday as a festival, consecrated to Christ, 
their Spirit of the Sun. As they supposed him never to 
have had a human body, they could not, of course, asso- 


ciate that day with the resurrection. They observed the 
Lord's Supper as sacredly symbolical ; but in what manner 
is not known, as they veiled it with great mystery. 

Mani claimed to be endowed with divine authority for the 
reformation of the church ; and his followers acknowledged 
him as the Paraclete sent by Christ ; of course, his was the 
infallible authority by which everything was to be judged. 
He considered the Hebrew Scriptures as the work of in- 
ferior and even bad Spirits, and containing little that was 
of value. He thought partial revelations of divine truth 
had been made to prophets and philosophers of all nations ; 
and some of them he preferred to those of the Jews. He 
said Jesus accommodated himself to Jewish opinions, with 
\ a view to prepare men gradually for the reception of truth ; 
that the Apostles were entangled in various Jewish errors ; 
and that the original records had been corrupted by the 
Prince of Darkness. It was for the Paraclete to distinguish 
the true from the false, by the light of the Gnosis within 
him. Accordingly, they received such portions of the 
Christian Scriptures as he endorsed, and understood them 
according to his interpretation. He also composed a Gros- 
pel, called the Book of Mani, which his followers believed 
to be written by inspiration from above. He excelled as a 
painter, and illustrated the book with pictures, which were 
the wonder of his age, and famous long afterward. 

He returned to Persia, and having become involved in 
controversies with the Magi, he was pronounced a heretic. 
He refused to renounce his opinions, and was flayed alive, 
in the year -two hundred and seventy-seven. His skin was 
stuffed and hung before the gates of the city, as a warning 
to his followers. They cherished his memory with the 
utmost reverence. On the anniversary of his martyrdom, 
they erected in their hall of worship a pulpit hung with 
rich drapery. All the Manicheans, as they entered, pros- 
trated themselves to the ground, in obeisance to his spirit, 
which was always supposed to be present on the occasion. 
Later Manicheans said that Buddas, Zoroaster, Mithras, 
Christ, and Mani, were all the same Spirit ; a view in ac- 


cordance with the idea that Buddha had appeared on earth 
at various epochs, and under various forms, to teach the 
same religion. 

This sect spread with wonderful rapidity from Persia, 
through Syria, Asia Minor, Northern Africa, and even into 
Italy. The strong impression they made on the minds of 
men is indicated by the active animosity they encountered. 
They suffered much from the severity of Persian kings, 
zealous for the religion of Zoroaster; from Eoman em- 
perors, equally zealous for the worship of Jupiter: and 
from Christians, who persecuted them with more violence 
than was manifested toward any other heretical sect. After 
flying from place to place, to hide themselves from those 
furious storms, they at last retreated to Eastern Asia. The 
name of the sect disappeared, but its doctrines became 
mixed with various forms of Gnosticism in Syria and 
Egypt, and, during the Middle Ages re-appeared in various 
European and Asiatic countries, sometimes publicly, some- 
times privately. 

The numerous Gnostic sects differed from each other in 
a variety of particulars. They generally believed that the 
+ Gnosis was received directly from heaven, in ecstatic states 
of mind ; some supposed it was originally such a revelation, 
' but had been orally transmitted by the Children of Light, 
from generation to generation ; a very few believed they 
had received it from some disciple of Christ, more capable 
than others of understanding his meaning in its purity. 
From some source or other, they were always passive re- 
cipients of what they deemed spiritual truth. What the 
Gnosis revealed was not to be analyzed by reason. 

The Syrian sects were generally strict to asceticism in 
their morals, and less inclined to speculative theories than 
the Gnostics of Egypt, who lived in the shadow of the 
ancient mysteries, and were excited to greater activity of 
intellect and imagination by the presence of the Alexan- 
drian Library, and the vast concourse of seekers after 
• truth, who flocked thither from all quarters of the world. 

Most of the Gnostic leaders were of Gentile origin, and 
Vol. II.— 35 a 


men of education. Of course, they were familiar with 
Oriental theories, and with the writings of Grecian and 
Roman philosophers, who all represented the Supreme 
Grod as a serene Existence, happy in his own purity, and 
utterly devoid of passions. Therefore, when they were at- 
tracted toward Christianity by the superiority of its moral 
maxims, they were at the same time repelled by its Jewish 
appendages. They regarded the Hebrew Scriptures with 
extreme aversion, because they were sincerely shocked at 
the idea that the Supreme Being could be jealous or 
angry, or changeable of purpose ; that he could command 
slaughter, or be capable of punishing the beings that had 
proceeded from Him. In their view, all that seemed like 
punishment was a benevolent process of purification. Ter- 
tullian brings it as an accusation against the Gnostics, that 
they denied God was to be feared. Clement of Alexandria 
says: "Their worship consists in continual attention to 
their souls ; in meditations upon the Divinity, as being in- 
exhaustible love." Yery few of their founders were of 
Jewish origin ; and those few changed the literal sense 
of their Scriptures, by allegorical interpretations, which 
rendered the character of Jehovah less repulsive ; a 
lesson they had previously learned from the writings of 

Jews believed that the human soul was created out of 
nothing, or was merely the breath of God. But Gnostics 
held the Oriental theory that all Spirits emanated from 
God, and were a part of Him ; therefore, they were accus- 
tomed to speak not only of Christ, but of human souls, as 
being of one substance with God, though inferior in degree. 
Theodoret says : " The soul is not consubstantial with God, 
as the wicked Manicheans hold, but was created out of 
nothing." Gnostics taught that the universe was created 
by Angels, who governed it, as agents of the Supreme. By 
most of them this mission was assigned to the Seven Great 
Angels, who ranked next to the immediate emanations 
from the Highest. When a distribution of offices was 
made among them, they supposed that the Chief of the 


Creating Angels had the Hebrews particularly entrusted to 
his care. Jews could easily adopt this idea ; for, from the 
most ancient times they had been taught that all nations, 
except themselves, were governed by Spirits of the Planets, 
and the Stars. And after the return from Babylon, it was 
a common belief among them that the Archangel Michael, 
Chief of "the Seven Great Princes," was the especial 
guardian of the Jews. 

In the Gnostic theories, there is a singular mixture of 
the profound with the fantastic. If their speculations con- 
cerning the origin of evil, and the nature of God, some- 
times seem wild and absurd, theirs is the common lot of 
finite minds seeking to fathom the Infinite. Their wish to 
separate God, by a long series of intermediate Spirits, from 
any participation in a creation involved with evil, was 
prompted by a reverential sentiment, though the details 
sometimes seem otherwise. Their various ideas of Christ 
as a Heavenly Spirit, and their unwillingness to invest him 
with a mortal body, are only eccentric expressions of a sin- 
cere wish to do him honour, as the highest messenger from 
God to man. The division of Spirits into masculine and 
feminine, and the offspring proceeding from these couples, 
seemed gross to many minds ; but the names given to them 
show that they were mere representatives of metaphysical 
ideas. Thus the mate of the Supreme was Silent Thought ; 
and the offspring was Mind, or Wisdom ; as if they had 
said, God, in the silence of his own thought, resolved to 
create the worlds ; and he did it by the agency of his wis- 
dom. A boldly figurative style always prevailed in the 
East; and no metaphors were in such common use, as 
those alluding to sexual attraction. The Hindoo, Hebrew, 
and Christian Scriptures abound with them. The passion 
of Sophia [Wisdom] for the Unknown One, and the im- 
perfect being produced by her longing, is only a metaphor- 
ical way of expressing the eager curiosity of the human 
mind to know the nature of God, and the incomplete and 
unsatisfactory result of all such investigations; and the 
ultimate purification of that imperfect offspring, after a 


long process of ages, merely utters the universal prophecy 
of a final union of the soul with God. 

The doctrine of many Gnostic sects, that some human 
souls were derived from Good Spirits, and must be saved 
by virtue of their birthright, whatever might be their out- 
ward acts ; and their common maxim, " Give to the spirit 
that which is spirit, and to the flesh that which is flesh," 
were doubtless abused by some individuals, and even oc- 
casioned the degeneracy of entire sects. Their exceeding 
contempt for the body would naturally lead some ascetic 
temperaments to starve it, and abuse it in every way; 
while opposite temperaments would infer, from the same 
premises, that its actions were of no consequence to the 
soul. There seems to be sufficient evidence, even from 
their enemies, that many of them were characterized by 
strict morality. This was peculiarly the case with regard 
to the Syrian sects. But they all suffered under the gen- 
eral odium brought on their name by those whose con- 
tempt of external laws was not limited by inward restrain- 
ing grace. 

The small importance they attached to outward things 
induced them generally to avoid persecution. Most of 
them thought it no harm to sacrifice to the gods, when 
magistrates put them to the test, because their souls did 
not participate in the worship they were thus compelled to 
offer ; therefore, they did not sympathize with the enthu- 
siastic reverence for martyrs. Clement of Alexandria says: 
" Some of them held that man to be a self-murderer, who, 
by confessing Christ, gave up his life." However, this rule 
was by no means universal. Many of the Marcionites en- 
dured martyrdom. Mani died in a most terrible manner, 
rather than renounce his opinions ; and multitudes of his 
followers endured the most horrible persecutions with un- 
shaken constancy. 

Gatherings at the tombs of martyrs would of course be 
inconsistent with their views. Most of them believed, as 
did also the Hindoos and Buddhists, that souls would suffer 
or enjoy more or less hereafter, according to deeds done on 


earth. But none of them believed in the resurrection of 
the body ; conceiving that it would be a degradation to the 
emancipated soul to reenter its prison-house. By the word 
resurrection in the Scriptures, many of them understood 
resurrection from sin. 

Their oriental ideas concerning Matter as the origin of 
Evil made them generally regard the propagation of mate- 
rial bodies as a sin ; therefore, nearly all of them were ad- 
vocates of strict celibacy. Some of them taught that when 
a human soul left the body, its was questioned by Superior 
Spirits concerning its life, and if unable to answer satisfac- 
torily, was sent back to the world again. Above all things, 
it was necessary for the soul to declare that it had left no 
children on the earth ; otherwise, it would be compelled to 
go through a severe process of purification. 

It will be obvious to every observing reader that Gnos- 
ticism was merely an attempt to graft Christianity upon 
oriental and Grecian theories, then generally current in the 
world, as another class of minds had already grafted it upon 
the old Jewish system. In most of the sects, the Persian 
element predominated ; in some, the Platonic ; in all of 
them there was an infusion of Hindoo ideas, derived from 
India, or Egypt. Mani's system was an amalgamation of 
Zoroaster, Buddha, and Christ. Agreeing with each other 
in a few prominent points, they differed in a multitude of 
details. Some sects rejected external worship altogether ; 
others attached great importance to it. Some regarded 
baptism, the Lord's Supper, and vocal prayer, as useless ; 
saying, all those things ought to be strictly spiritual. 
Others said outward baptism constituted initiation into 
spiritual life, and that participation of the Eucharist pro- 
duced an intimate union between the soul and the Celestial 
Christ. The most ascetic sects drank water on such occa- 
sions, instead of wine. The Christian Fathers, commenting 
on this practice, say: "Jesus drank wine after his resurrec- 
tion, in order to eradicate the pernicious heresy of those 
who use water instead of wine at the Eucharist." Paul, 
urging the doctrine of resurrection, inquires: " What shall 
Vol. II.— 35* 


they do, who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not 
at all ? Why are they then baptized for the dead ?" Some 
of the Gnostic sects inferred from these words, that repre- 
sentative baptism ought to be administered to the living, for 
the benefit of converts who had died unbaptized. Many of 
those who believed that the Spirit called Christ descended 
on the man Jesus at his baptism, kept a religious festival 
in honour of that event. Some regarded music as a mere 
pleasure to the senses, and therefore ensnaring to the soul ; 
others stimulated devotion by singing glowing religious 

Some sects had bishops, and a regular church govern- 
ment ; but, in general, there was great scope for individual 
freedom. Tertullian finds great fault with their discipline. 
He says : " It is uncertain who is a catechumen, or who is 
one of the faithful ; for they all attend the worship, and 
hear and pray in common. How noisy are their women ! 
How they have the assurance to teach, to argue, to exor- 
cise, to undertake cures, and perhaps to baptize !" Women 
performed a prominent part in the progress of Gnosticism. 
Helen had powerful influence with Simon Magus. Apel- 
les, a leader of one of the sects, believed he received con- 
stant revelations through the inspirations of Philomena, 
whom he seems to have regarded with a pure and sincere 
reverence. Ptolemy, another leader among them, con- 
stantly corresponded with his friend Flora, concerning all 
views of spiritual subjects, which dawned upon his mind. 
Agape, a Spanish lady of rank, was a zealous proselyte of 
Marcus, and the founder of a society of Gnostics, which 
took her name. Marcellina, a celebrated teacher, about 
the middle of the second century, preached with general 
acceptance to the Gnostics at Home. 

All the Gnostics agreed in abhorrence of idolatry; but 
many of them regarded with reverence the images, or por- 
traits of those whom they considered great teachers, sent 
by God to various ages and nations. Marcellina, during 
her discourses, was accustomed to exhibit to the audience 
likenesses of Homer, Pythagoras, Jesus, and Paul. Some 


of these sects had likewise a variety of small medallions, 
supposed to have been used as symbols to teach secret doc- 
trines, or as amulets for the cure of diseases. These were 
probably of Egyptian origin. Some of them represented 
deities with a human form, with the head of a hawk, or a 
dog, like Osiris and Anubis. These were inscribed, in 
Greek characters, with the word Abraxas, the meaning of 
which is lost. The head of Christ was engraved on some 
of them, with his name in Greek, and the symbol of a fish 
below ; because the initials of Jesus Christ, Son of God, 
Saviour, formed the word fish in that language. In some of 
the sects, the Egyptian element greatly predominated ; and 
emblems of the Earn, the Serpent, and the Cross of Hermes 
were conspicuous in their worship. 

As Christians were divided into many sects, which mu- 
tually attacked each other, whose differences were little 
understood by their Jewish and polytheistic neighbours, 
the opinions and customs of the Gnostics were continually 
ascribed to the great body of the Christians. This was 
very annoying to the Fathers, who considered them the 
spiritual offspring of Simon Magus, and the most trouble- 
some corrupters of the church. Their censure is unsparing 
and indiscriminate. They call them " heretics," " blasphe- 
mers," and " atheists," and constantly repeat the charge of 
licentiousness. They are peculiarly severe in their stric- 
tures upon Carpocrates and his son. They accuse all the 
Carpocratians of carrying out their speculative opinions into 
very immoral practices ; but the charge is probably exag- 
gerated. Judging from the general history of human na- 
ture, some sincere aspirations and efforts after goodness 
would be likely to mingle with the dangerous abuse of 
theories not originally intended for evil. The devout and 
ascetic Marcion was regarded with equal abhorrence. Jus- 
tin Martyr describes him as "everywhere teaching blasphe- 
mies, by instigation of the Devil." Irenasus relates the 
particulars of a meeting between him and Polycarp, with 
whom he had been well acquainted before he began to 
preach objectionable doctrines. When Marcion advanced 


toward his old friend, and asked whether he would own 
him, Poly carp replied : "I own you to be the first-born of 
Satan." Epiphanius says: "Every one who does not con- 
fess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is Anti-Christ ; 
whoever does not confess the martyrdom of the cross, is 
of the Devil ; whoever says there is no resurrection, is the 
first-born of Satan." Irenseus, speaking of those who de- 
nied that Christ had a material body, says: "The Holy 
Spirit, foreseeing their perverseness, and guarding against 
their artifice, said by Matthew: 'The generation of Christ 
was in this wise.' " It has been already stated that the 
Apostle John was supposed by the Fathers to have written 
against Cerinthus. He evidently refers to him, or some 
other Gnostic, where he says : " Every spirit that confesseth 
not that Jesus is Christ come in the flesh, is not of God." 
It is also supposed that Paul alludes to the same class, where 
he speaks of some who "give heed to seducing spirits, and 
doctrines of devils ; forbidding to marry, and commanding 
to abstain from meats." Also, where he exhorts Timothy 
not to give heed " to fables and endless genealogies ;" pro- 
bably referring to some of the long series of spiritual emana- 
tions. And where he says to the Colossians: "Let no man 
beguile you ; worshipping of Angels, intruding into those 
things which he hath not seen." It is very likely that the 
presence of Gnostics in the churches might have originated 
those early questions concerning marriage, in answer to 
which Paul took middle ground between the oriental and 
the Jewish feeling on the subject. 

The hostility of the Fathers was doubtless increased by 
the fact that Gnostic theories proved very attractive to men 
of genius and learning, and enticed some from the bosom 
of their own churches. Tatian, who was converted by Jus- 
tin Martyr, went over to the Gnostics, and entertained their 
characteristic views concerning innumerable Spirits, emana- 
tions from the Supreme One. He thought a life of celibacy, 
and total renunciation of property, were necessary, in order 
to follow the example of Christ. He was the founder of a 
large sect, who, on account of their ascetic habits, were 


called Encratites, meaning the Self-Eestrained. Tatian wrote 
a book, which obtained considerable circulation, called The 
Harmony of the Four Gospels. The Bishop Theodoretus 
found two hundred copies of it in his Syrian diocese, in the 
fifth century ; and, following the usual policy of the church, 
caused them all to be destroyed. The father of Gregory 
of Nazianzen, was a Gnostic ; but, being converted by the 
prayers and tears of his pious wife, he afterward became a 
bishop of orthodox standing. The celebrated Augustine was 
for several years a zealous Manichean. There were also nu- 
merous instances of bishops and teachers in the church, not 
professedly Gnostic, who mingled with Christianity similar 
ideas from oriental and Platonic sources. In the first cen- 
turies, before Councils of Bishops had settled what were the 
doctrines of the Christian church, there was an effort to re- 
concile Gnostic ideas with Christianity, in order to present 
some standard of unity to the believers in Christ. This was 
particularly the case in Alexandria, where the Platonic phi- 
losophy greatly prevailed ; for Plato also taught that spirit- 
ual things were revealed to man only by an intuitive per- 
ception. The Alexandrian Christians, in controversy with 
the Gnostics, acknowledged the existence of the divine sci- 
ence termed Gnosis ; but they said it must come in conse- 
quence of faith, and a life in obedience thereto. A man 
must begin by believing the Holy Scriptures, and the tra- 
ditions handed down by the church, and then the interior 
of his mind would be enlightened by the Gnosis. They 
were accustomed to quote Isaiah vii : 9, which, in the Sep- 
tuagint, was translated : " If ye do not believe, neither shall 
ye understand." The words were spoken by the prophet 
with reference to a very different subject ; but it was a com- 
mon practice, with people of all sects, to apply texts for 
controversial purposes, without any regard to the connection 
in which they were used. Clement of Alexandria says: 
" As is the doctrine, so also must be the life; for the tree is 
known by its fruit, not by its leaves or its blossoms. The 
Gnosis, then, comes from the fruit and the life, not from the 


blossom and the doctrine. For we say that the Gnosis is 
not merely doctrine, bat a divine science. It is that light 
which dawns within the soul, in consequence of obedience 
to God's commands, and which makes all things clear ; 
which teaches man to know all that is contained in creation, 
and in himself, and instructs him how to maintain fellow- 
ship with God. For what the eye is to the body, the Gnosis 
is to the mind." 

Every observing reader will have noticed in the Gnostic 
systems many striking resemblances to the theological ideas 
of Persia and Hindostan. It is not unlikely that some, espe- 
cially of the Asiatic Gnostics, might have been personally 
acquainted with Persian Magi or East Indian devotees, either 
Buddhist or Braminical. The simultaneous and general de- 
velopment of these oriental doctrines, in various countries, 
early in the second century, shows very plainly that the seed 
had been scattered long before that time. The Gnostics 
branched into more than fifty sects, and were not suppressed 
till near the sixth century. They were finally scattered and 
crushed by persecution of the dominant church. Their wri- 
tings were destroyed, and what we know of them is mainly 
derived from their theological opponents. 


Another class of opinions, similar to Gnosticism in some 
features, yet very distinct in general character, and not 
mixed with the name or doctrines of Christ, prevailed ex- 
tensively among the educated classes at the same period, 
and for some time contended with Christianity for supre- 
macy over the minds of men. This was the Alexandrian 
school of New Platonists. Their earliest leaders were 
men of uncommon intellect, who both by precept and ex- 
ample inculcated pure and elevated morality. They were 
often called Eclectics, a name compounded of two Greek 
words, meaning to choose from ; because they selected from 
all philosophies what they considered the best, and formed 
a new system from them. But though they drew from 


various sources, their doctrines were principally Platonic. 
Of course, they believed in the preexistence of the human 
soul, and its imprisonment in Matter, during which it had 
glimpses of its heavenly home^ received by intuition, in 
elevated states of mind ; and also in its final return, through 
holiness, to the spheres of glory, whence it came. The 
complicated spiritual machinery of many of the Gnostic 
sects never appeared in their teaching, and they represented 
no Eedeeming Spirit, of any rank, as descending to the 
rescue of suffering humanity. 

Plotinus. — Plotinus, founder of the New Platonists, 
was born at Lycopolis in Egypt, two hundred and three 
years after Christ. He devoted himself to the study of 
philosophy, and, when thirty-nine years old, joined the 
army of the emperor Grordian, in order to become ac- 
quainted with the sages of Persia and India ; but the 
emperor was killed on the way, and Plotinus narrowly 
escaped with his life. Soon after his return, he went to 
Rome, and held public conversations concerning philoso- 
phy. He excited great enthusiasm, and his school was 
frequented by men and women, young and old, senators 
and plebeians. He was a great favourite with the emperor 
and empress, and was almost adored by his disciples. 
Among them was the senator Rogentianus, who emanci- 
pated all his slaves, became indifferent to property, and 
refused all worldly dignities, in order to devote himself en- 
tirely to philosophy. The moral character of Plotinus 
stood so high, that he was continually chosen as the 
guardian of orphans, and intrusted with the care of large 
estates. His integrity and prudence inspired such un- 
doubting confidence, that during twenty-eight years of his 
residence at Rome, he never made a single enemy among 
the great numbers thus intrusted to his care. His style 
and pronunciation were not good ; but the power of his 
reasoning, and the fervour of his convictions, so carried 
away the minds of his hearers, that they forgot all defects. 
His personal beauty also was remarkable; and on such 


occasions a glow of enthusiasm lighted up his whole coun- 
tenance, and gave it a character almost divine. The ex- 
istence of a God, his absolute Unity, his action upon the 
world, and the relation of the human soul to him, were his 
absorbing themes. "All his metaphysics went to show 
that God is One; that the world is not God, or a. part of 
God; though it exists in his mind, derives all life from 
Him, and can not be separated from Him." The Perfect, 
Uncreated Principle, he called The Good, the Absolute 
Unity. Mind, or Wisdom, was the Logos of the Good, 
the most perfect of all that proceeded from Him. From 
"Wisdom proceeded a third principle, called The Soul of the 
World. Each of these Three Principles were supposed to 
know and love the one above it, but not the one below it. 
The Absolute Unity, having nothing above Him, knows 
and loves only himself. Plotinus says : " We ought not to 
maintain that there are any other Principles save these 
Three. Having placed the simple Good first, we ought to 
place Mind, or Wisdom, next after Him, and in the third 
place, The Universal Soul. This is the immutable order, 
neither to make more or fewer distinctions in the Sovereign 
Intelligence." He adds : " Plato declared the same. This 
account of things is not new; but though formerly given, 
was not well unfolded." He taught that man also was 
threefold ; having a rational soul, which was one with the 
Divine Unity ; a sensitive soul, the seat of passions and 
sensations ; and a material body. He delighted in the con- 
templation of an eternal immutable world above this, where 
existed, in pure spiritual forms, ideas of the Divine Mind, 
the models by which all things in this visible world were 
created. There beauty shone unveiled, in an atmosphere 
of glory. The images of it here below were imperfect, 
shadowy, and transient ; and the light that revealed them 
was a pale reflection of the celestial splendour. The human 
soul, in its highest states, could penetrate into this superior 
world, and hold communion with the essences of things. 
To attain to this, by subjugation of the senses, a scrupulous 
practice of all the virtues, and the contemplation of divine 


themes, was the constant subject of his exhortations. He 
says: "When I shake off corporeal impressions, and, for- 
getting the world without, concentrate into myself, I dis- 
cover such admirable beauty in my soul, and am so closely 
united to the nature of God, that I am confirmed in the 
thought that my destiny here below is not my true destiny; 
that I am here by a descent ; and that I must return to my 
country, which is near God." He describes the soul, in its 
most exalted states, as so elevated above all sublunary 
things, so freed from the shackles of Matter, that it could 
perceive clearly the hidden mysteries of God, and enjoy 
intimate union with Him. He said such union could not 
be permanent while man was in the body. In this life, it 
was a mere flash of light, which God, in his goodness, 
granted to the soul for solace. While it continued, memory 
vanished, and the mind saw past, present, and future, at one 
glance. His disciple Porphyry relates of him, that four 
times, when he was near him, the soul of Plotinus was 
raised up to the First and Sovereign Good ; and he him- 
self describes such elevated states, as if he had experienced 

He believed that some classes of souls were less heavily 
chained to Matter than others ; that " lovers, musicians, and 
philosophers," had stronger wings, and could more easily 
rise into supernal regions. The idea embodied in these 
words was far more elevated than that which they convey 
to modern ears. He thereby signified those who delighted 
in what we should call spiritual beauty, harmony, and 
wisdom. He supposed also that the study of beautiful 
forms, harmonious sounds, and the relations of numbers, 
tended gradually to withdraw the soul from things merely 
corporeal. He was well versed in music, geometry, arith- 
metic, and the mechanical powers, as they were then un- 
derstood. According to the custom of his day, he studied 
astronomy more as an astrologer, than as a mathematician. 
He believed that the stars had souls, because, according to 
his system, everything, great or small, existed by means 
of a soul derived from God. But being convinced that as- 
Vol. II.— 36 


trology was not a true science, lie argued against it. He 
says : " If the stars are inanimate, how can they make men 
grammarians or musicians, wise or ignorant, rich or poor? 
If they are animated, why should Divine Spirits do harm 
to us, who never injured them? There is only One Power, 
which animates and vivifies all, and establishes order every- 
where. Our virtues come from the Divinity within us; 
our vices from communion with Matter. Whoever pos- 
sesses himself, and triumphs over his passions, to follow 
the road leading to God, holds in his hands his own des- 
tiny, and depends only upon Providence, whose decrees are 

Some of the Gnostics said the world came into existence, 
because it was necessary for the Creator to have a witness 
of his grandeur. They regarded creation as "a hymn 
sung by the Creator to his own glory." In answer to this, 
Plotinus exclaims : " What ! The glory of God have need 
of such creatures as we are ? God weary of solitude ? 
He have need of praises ? Would you assimilate Him to 
our sculptors, who work for their own fame? Would you 
place Him below the wise men, who despise the praises and 
honours of this world, provided they may perceive the 
true essences of things, and enter into the enjoyment of re- 
alities ?" 

He considered the body merely a temporary companion 
of the soul, and not partaking of its nature. It trans- 
mitted impressions from the material world, but was an 
obstacle to pure contemplation, and rendered all intellectual 
operations more difficult. In all ways, he manifested dis- 
dain for the body. He blushed for his parents that they 
had given birth to it ; and he always disliked to be asked 
where he was born. His own corporeal necessities were 
extremely mortifying to him, and he was exceedingly an- 
noyed by any discussions relating to such subjects. He 
refused urgent intreaties to have his likeness taken, be- 
cause he thought it unworthy of a wise man to transmit an 
image of his body to succeeding generations. He ate 
sparingly, and of the simplest food. He slept but little, 


and was often debilitated by the constant tension of his 
mind, always occupied with subtle questions concerning 
the relations between the Divine Mind and the universe. 
His pupil, Porphyry, was so carried away by enthusiasm 
for his master, that he not only adopted his contempt for 
the body, but came to have such an aversion to it, that he 
resolved to commit suicide. But Plotinus, who always 
preserved a degree of moderation, even in his most fervent 
mysticism, divined his intention, and taught him to wait 
with resignation ; urging that the tie between Spirit and 
Matter, ought to be broken only by Him who had formed 
it. He even wrote to prove that men ought to be careful 
not to exaggerate Plato's disdain for Matter. He says : 
"It is true the material world is only an image ; but it is 
an image of the Divine Mind, and is worthy of its model. 
The Gnostics calumniate this dwelling to which they chain 
us. But we Platonicians know how at once to admire it, 
and to quit it for a more beautiful abode, the world of 
Divine Ideas ; which is not another world between him 
and us, but God himself in his Wisdom. The Gnostics 
say much about suffering, and about moral evil. Of what 
do they complain ? Of struggle ? That is the condition 
of victory. Of injustice? There is nothing terrible in 
that to an immortal. Of death ? That is deliverance. 
They trust to incantations, and think to expel diseases by 
mysterious words, which they suppose the devils must 
obey ; not by temperance and regularity of life, as is done 
by true philosophers." 

" Of two sages, one abounding in this world's goods, and 
the other deprived of necessaries, shall we say that both 
are equally happy ? We can say it with truth, if both are 
equally wise." 

" The wise man preserves in his own bosom the sacred 
flame, which enlightens him, though winds may blow, and 
tempests roar without." 

" The loss of the dearest friends, or even of a son, can 
not hinder him who possesses The Good from being happy. 
That which there is inferior in him, that which does not 


partake of the Divine Mind, is dismayed and afflicted by 
such events ; but not the rational soul, which is he him- 
self. Grief is nothing ; not even if it kills the body. It 
can take away life, but not liberty. He fears neither 
misery nor death, though it be violent. He cares not for 
burial ; for he knows the body will perish above the earth, 
as well as under it. He will not even disturb himself 
about the future conduct of his children. If they are rea- 
sonable, they will behave well ; if they are not, how do 
they merit the attention of a wise man ?" 

With regard to immortality, Plotinus believed that souls 
perfectly purified became united with Grod. Virtuous 
souls, whose purification was not completely accomplished, 
returned to some Star, to live as they did before they de- 
scended to this earth. Others, still less elevated, who had, 
nevertheless, respected the character in themselves, would 
enter a new human form, for further probation. Those 
who had given themselves up to the senses, or the passions, 
would enter into the forms of various animals, agreeing 
with their character. Tyrants and cruel men would be- 
come ferocious beasts. Those who exercised only the 
politic virtues of this life, such as prudence, industry, or 
courage, would enter into the form of some creature 
socially wise, like the bee. Those who had taken exces- 
sive delight in music, would become singing birds. Phi- 
losophers, who had been bold to irreverence in their 
speculations, would become eagles, or other birds, whose 
flight was high. Those who had possessed no energy, 
who had lived the life of vegetables, would become plants. 
Punishments more dreadful than any of these awaited 
great criminals, who would descend to regions below this 
earth, and suffer terrible chastisements. 

As Philo thought he could find the doctrines of Plato 
in the writings of Moses, by allegorical interpretation, so 
Plotinus imagined he found them under the veil of Grecian 
mythology. He did not forbid his disciples to worship 
the Gods, whom he regarded as intermediate Spirits ; but 
he never assigned passions to them. On the contrary, he 


said they had no need of prayers and sacrifices ; that their 
justice was inflexible, and their benevolence unchange- 
able. He did not proscribe any of the customary religious 
ceremonies, but left each one to judge for himself concern- 
ing the symbolical meaning they contained. 

The disciples of Plotinus ascribed to him miraculous 
power. They affirmed that he could discern the secret 
thoughts of men. When Porphyry contemplated suicide, 
he discovered it, without receiving any outward intima- 
tion. When a theft had been committed in the house, he 
collected the domestics, and immediately pointed out the 
culprit, without asking a question. They prayed him to 
evoke his Guardian Spirit, which the Grecians called his 
"demon." He refused for a long time. Finally, when he 
yielded to their intreaties, they saw a God appear. The 
Spirit attendant on every man was supposed to be the 
archetype of his soul, as it existed in the world of Divine 
Ideas ; of course, the inference was that the model of his 
soul was above that of other human souls ; that it was in 
fact one of the Superior Spirits, whom he had as his con- 
stant guide and familiar companion. When some of his 
disciples asked him to go to the public sacrifices, he ans- 
wered : " It is for them to come to me ;" and so great was 
their reverence, that they dared not ask the meaning of his 

After the philosopher became too infirm to continue his 
labours, he retired to Puteoli, where the liberality of friends 
supplied his very simple wants. In his last illness, he re- 
sisted medicines, and when they would have forced them 
upon him, he hid himself to die ; saying he wished to ren- 
der up what was divine within him to the Source whence 
it came. He departed from the body in the sixty-sixth 
year of his age. After his death, his friends inquired of 
an oracle where his soul was. The reply was given in 
verse, testifying to his gentleness and goodness, the eleva- 
tion of his ideas, and his ardent desire to return to God. 
It stated that his soul had gone to rejoin the just spirits of 
Minos, Ehadamanthus, and .zEacus ; and had been permit- 
Vol. 1L— 36* 


ted to see face to face what other philosophers had not 

Plotinus, in his youth, studied eleven years with Am- 
monius Saccas, a celebrated philosopher in Alexandria, 
said to be of Christian parentage, who was also the tutor of 
Origen. In the writings of Plotinus, there are no obvious 
indications that he took any interest in Christianity, for or 
against it ; but some scholars have thought that his argu- 
ments occasionally appear as if aimed at the well-known 
opinions of Christians. Amelius, one of his disciples, 
quotes John, the Evangelist, in some of his writings, and 
calls him " the barbarian." This was not intended as an 
insult ; for Grecians habitually bestowed that epithet on all 
other nations, in consequence of their own supremacy in 
literature and the arts. Like the word Gentiles, among 
the Jews, it came to be synonomous with foreigner. He 
says : " It is the Logos [Word] which is the eternal cause 
of all that has been produced. It is in this sense the bar- 
barian could say that the Word exists in God as a princi- 
ple, and is God ; that all has been made by his efficacy ; 
that all being exists in him, and by him ; that he descends 
into a body, clothes himself with flesh, and lives our hu- 
man life ; that during his exile, he still gives proofs of his 
divinity ; that being released from his prison, he returns 
to God, such as he was before he descended into a body." 
Amelius did not apply the passage to Jesus, or to any other 
individual. To his mind, it merely presented the Platonic 
theory concerning every human soul, imprisoned in a body, 
and finally returning to unity with God. Basil says he 
knew many philosophers who admired those verses, and 
copied them into their own writings. Augustine also 
quotes a Platonist who said the Christians ought to write 
them in golden letters and place them in all the churches. 

Porphyry. — Porphyry, a Phoenician, born in two hun- 
dred thirty-two, was the most distinguished pupil of Plo- 
tinus, and succeeded him as the head of the Alexandrian 
school. He taught nearly the same system, but had a 


tendency to mix oriental doctrines with the philosophy of 
Plato. He is described by the learned Neander as " a man 
of noble spirit, united with profound intellectual attain- 
ments ; a man of the East, in whom the oriental basis of 
character had been completely fused with the elements of 
Grecian culture." Unlike his master, he was inclined to 
favour, to a certain degree, the study of magic, called 
Theurgy. The eclecticism which Plotinus had favoured, 
he explicitly announced in the theory that a universal re- 
ligion ought to float above all rival religions and phi- 
losophies, to conciliate what was good and true in each, 
and transfer them all into the bosom of a superior unity. 
Christianity was then making rapid progress, and New 
Platonists formed the most powerful barrier to its encroach- 
ments on the old religion, to which they outwardly con- 
formed, while they gave spiritual significance to its my- 
thology and ceremonies, and were distinguished from its 
other worshippers merely by the superior purity of their 
lives, and the elevation of their doctrines. Porphyry was 
the earliest and most formidable champion in this warfare. 
He studied the Septuagint, and the Christian Sacred Writ- 
ings, for the express purpose of refuting them. He wrote 
a work for that purpose, in which he pointed out discrep- 
ancies between different portions of the Sacred Scriptures, 
ridiculed the allegorical mode of interpretation, so much in 
vogue with the Fathers, and from their predilection for it 
inferred that the literal sense had little worth, and could 
not be explained in a way consonant to reason. Yet he 
himself adopted the same system to extract meaning from 
the mythology of the Greeks ; and found in it whatever his 
own state of culture placed there. The Fathers triumph- 
antly quote' his admission that some of the prophecies of 
Daniel were so correct, they must have been written after 
the event. They also quote him as speaking respectfully 
of Christ, though he thought those were to be pitied who 
mistook him for a God. He says of Jesus : " That pious 
soul, which ascended to heaven, by a certain fatality be- 
came an occasion of error to those souls that were destined 


to have no share in the gifts of the gods, and in knowledge 
of the eternal Jupiter.' 7 

Little is accurately known concerning his books against 
Christianity ; for they were zealously destroyed, when that 
religion became dominant. The importance attached to 
them is thereby indicated ; also by the fact that they re- 
ceived more than thirty answers, and that Porphyry's name 
is seldom alluded to by the Fathers without expressions of 
strong dislike. 

He inculcated a high standard of morals, and the purity 
of his life is admitted even by his enemies. He was ascetic, 
like others of his school. He lived separate from his wife 
after he devoted himself to philosophy, and was in all re- 
spects as abstemious as an anchorite. He wrote a Treatise 
on Abstinence, in which he gave a curious account of the 
Bramins of India, and the Buddhist monks. 

Porphyry believed all religions had a divine origin, and 
that consequently portions of truth might be found in 
them all. In a letter to his wife, he calls faith, love, and 
hope, the foundation of all genuine religion ; and declares 
it the noblest fruit of piety to worship God after the man- 
ner of one's own country. In conformity to this sentiment, 
he reconciled his mind even to image- worship, by spirit- 
ualizing the outward forms as symbols. He saj^s: "By 
images addressed to the senses, the ancients represented 
God and his Powers. By the visible, they typified the in- 
visible ; for the sake of those who could learn to read in 
those figures, as in books, a writing that treated of the gods. 
We are not to wonder if the ignorant consider them merely 
as wood, or marble ; for those who are unacquainted with 
writing can perceive in monuments nothing but stone, in 
tablets nothing but wood, and in books nothing but a roll 
of papyrus." But though he defends the popular forms of 
worship, he writes to his wife : " That man is not so much 
of an atheist, who neglects to worship the statues of the 
gods, as he is who transfers to God the opinions of the mul- 
titude." Eegarding it as wrong to kill animals, he did not 
hesitate to condemn bloody sacrifices, though they were 


sanctioned by immemorial custom, and commanded by law. 
He says : " The philosopher ought to destroy bad usages, 
not submit to them. He owes obedience to the laws only 
when they are not contrary to a superior law, which he 
carries within him. We have seen Syrians, Jews, and 
Egyptians, brave death rather than transgress a religious 
precept; and is a philosopher, after having passed his life 
in proving that death is no evil, is he to hesitate between 
peril and his duty?" 

" The philosopher carries within him, as a sacred deposit, 
an unwritten, but most divine law. Whatsoever is not for 
the love of God is nothing; this is the only nourishment 
that strengthens." 

" It is by purity of heart, and the sacrifice of ourselves, 
that we truly honour Divine Beings. The offerings of the 
wicked are vain. They can not bind the gods to them by 
benefits. As for pompous sacrifices, to sustain and aug- 
ment piety, they, on the contrary, only increase supersti- 
tion, and spread abroad the deplorable idea that we can 
corrupt the justice of the gods by presents." He quoted 
Apollonius in favour of silent prayer, as alone worthy of 
the Supreme Being. He says: " Prayer is reasonable and 
holy. The prayer of the just is especially efficacious. It 
produces a sort of union between the gods and the just, 
who resemble them. It is a law of nature that similarities 
unite. Shut up in the body, as in a prison, we ought to 
pray to the gods to deliver us from our fetters. They are 
our true fathers, and we ought to pray to them, like chil- 
dren exiled from the paternal mansion." 

Porphyry, though a truly learned and great man, shared 
the general credulity of his time. He was much impressed 
with the power of Evil Spirits, and frequently alludes to 
them as the cause of diseases, drought, earthquakes, quar- 
rels, and wars ; as obscuring the idea of God in the soul, 
and spreading abroad all manner of superstitions. He 
took very great interest in animals, and quotes with appro- 
bation Aristotle's opinion that their reason differs from 
ours in degree, but not in essence. He expresses a belief 


that animals "have a language, and that some men are en- 
dowed with power to comprehend it. He also believed 
that the spirit of prophecy could be gained by eating the 
liver of certain animals. He says his soul was only once 
elevated to complete union with God, so as to have glimpses 
of the eternal world ; and that did not occur till he was 
sixty-eight years old. He complains bitterly of the in- 
credulity of his cotemporaries ; which seems singular 
enough to us, who look back upon the records of that 
distant time. He was seventy-one years old when he 
died. Some of his numerous writings have come down 
to us. Among them are a Life of Pythagoras and of Plo- 

Jamblichus. — Jamblichus, a Syrian, pupil of Porphyry, 
was the third leader of the school. He also was a man of 
great erudition, but is generally considered to have had 
less originality and judgment than his predecessors. Like 
them, he urged the practice of all the virtues, conjointly 
with the acquisition of knowledge ; and sustained his pre- 
cepts by his own example. Though born of a wealthy 
and illustrious family, he lived as frugally as the ancient 
sages. His style of teaching is described as rather dry ; 
but though he lacked the eloquence of Plotinus, scholars 
flocked to him from all parts of Greece and Syria, in such 
numbers that it was surprising how one man could attend 
to them all. They sat at his table, followed him in crowds 
wheresoever he went, and listened to his sayings with the 
most profound reverence. Alypius, one of the great men 
of Alexandria, meeting him in the street, thus accom- 
panied, stopped and abruptly asked him whether it was 
true that a rich man must either be unjust, or the son of 
the unjust. The philosopher, whose thoughts were mostly 
occupied with the nature of the human soul, and its rela- 
tions with other Spirits of the universe, was unprepared 
for such a practical question. He replied : " All that is 
strange to me. I know of no other riches than virtue j" 
and immediately turned away. Afterward, when he re- 


fleeted upon it, the question seemed to him so deep and 
comprehensive, that he was filled with admiration for 
Alypius, and wrote a panegyric upon him. 

Jamblichus lived in the reign of Constantine, when Gre- 
cian philosophy had yielded the palm to Christianity ; of 
course, he could make no open attacks on what he regarded 
as " the impostures of barbarians." 

His system differed in some details from that of his 
predecessors. His theory of emanations was more compli- 
cated, and he mixed the study of magic with philosophy 
more than Porphyry had done. He says : " It is difficult 
to know how to please God, unless he himself reveals it to 
us, or we have recourse to theurgy." 

His disciples thought he possessed supernatural power. 
A story had spread abroad that, while engaged in prayer, 
he had been raised fifteen feet above the earth. When 
one of them asked if this were true, he smiled, and gave 
an evasive answer. Some of them expressed a strong de- 
sire to witness a decisive proof of his miraculous power. 
He replied that he could not make an occasion for such 
manifestations. Afterward, all his school accompanied 
him to the baths of Gadara, in Syria. He asked the in- 
habitants the names of two very pure springs of water. 
They told him they were called Eros, and Anteros : deities 
whom the Greeks always represented in a juvenile form. 
He had scarcely touched the water with his hand, and 
murmured a few words, when there rose up from it two 
children, of celestial beauty, and clasped their arms round 
his neck, as if he had been their father. This miracle shut 
the mouths of the most incredulous ; thenceforth, none of 
his disciples presumed to doubt his communion with the 
gods. Eunapius, his biographer, an accomplished and con- 
scientious writer, says : " They recount many other mar- 
vellous things concerning him ; but they are so fantastic 
and incredible, that I fear to repeat them ; for the gods 
forbid to mingle fables and false stories with true and con- 
scientious history. I should even scruple to report these 
examples, if they had not come from those who were eye- 


witnesses. However, neither Edesius or his friends have 
dared to put them in their works." 

For the practice of Theurgy, the philosophers prepared 
themselves by fasting, watching, praying, and intense reli- 
gious contemplation. By this process, they sometimes 
arrived at a state of exaltation thus described by Jambli- 
chus : " The senses were in a sleeping state. The theur- 
gist had no command of his faculties, no consciousness of 
what he said or did. He was insensible to fire, or any 
bodily injury. Carried by a divine impulse, he went 
through impassable places, through fire and water, without 
knowing where he was. A divine illumination took full 
possession of the man, absorbed all his faculties, motions 7 
and senses ; making him speak what he did not under- 
stand, or rather seem to speak it ; for he was in fact merely 
the minister, or instrument, of the god who possessed him." 

Jamblichus was a devout believer in the efficacy of 
prayer. He says : " Frequent prayer nourishes our supe- 
rior part, renders the receptacle of the soul more capacious 
for the gods, discloses divine things to men, accustoms 
them to the splendours of the World of Intelligences, and 
gradually perfects our union with the pure Spirits, till it 
leads us back to the Supreme God. It purges away every 
thing noxious to the soul, divesting the ethereal and lumi- 
nous spirit of whatever tends to corruption. It perfects 
hope, augments faith, increases divine love, and kindles 
whatever is celestial in the soul." 

Jamblichus wrote a good deal, but his works are nearly 
all destroyed, or lost. He is supposed to have died before 
three hundred and thirty-three. 

Plotinus, whose eloquent enthusiasm was so tempered 
with moderation, had given a great impulse to the Alex- 
andrian School ; but none of his successors attained to the 
height of his genius. There was a gradual decline after 
his departure ; but noble examples abounded ; and, during 
the whole existence of the school, many of its followers 
manifested an admirable earnestness to conform their con- 
duct to their principles. Simplicius, the very last cham- 


pion of the expiring religion of Greece, retained all the 
best characteristics of his class. He was a devout be- 
liever in a constant living relation between man and the 
gods ; but rejected altogether the idea that Divine Beings 
could be propitiated bj sacrifices or offerings. He says : 
" "When we sin, God does not turn from us. He is not 
angry. He does not leave us, and consequently does not 
return to us when we repent. All this is human, and 
quite foreign from the Divine. We separate ourselves from 
God, by departing from that course which is in harmony 
with nature ; and by restoring our original nature, we re- 
turn back to fellowship with God ; and the act of our own 
return we ascribe to God, as if he returned back to us." 
The following prayer, preserved in his writings, is very 
expressive of the Platonic spirit: "I pray thee, Lord, 
Father and Guide of the reason within us, that we may re- 
member our nobility, whereof thou hast deemed us worthy. 
Help us, of our own free will, to be purified from the 
body, and disturbing passions ; to be superior and rule 
over them ; to use them merely as instruments, and in a 
becoming manner. Help us also to the accurate correc- 
tion of the reason within us, and to unite it with the reali- 
ties that exist in the light of thy truth. And I pray the 
Preserver to remove entirely all film from our spiritual 
eyes, that we may rightly know both God and man." 

The writings of the New Platonists are generally obscure 
and confused. The idea of a three-fold existence in one is 
always preserved ; but sometimes they say that the Logos 
created the world, and sometimes they seem to say the 
same concerning the Soul of the World, proceeding from 
the Logos. In the time of Porphyry and Jamblichus, it 
was much discussed which of the two was the Creator. 
They held the usual ideas concerning the three-fold nature 
of man. Of the spiritual body, between the soul and the 
material form, Proclus says : "In the world above, there is 
no need of the divided organs, which we have in our mortal 
life. The uniform, lucid, resplendent vehicle is sufficient ; 
this having all the senses united in every part of it." 
Vol. II.— 37 


Some of them denied that human souls ever entered into 
brutes. They understood Plato to mean that imperfect 
souls would enter human bodies resembling beasts in the 
character of their passions ; not that they would literally 
become animals. They said God would always preserve 
the human soul from such degradation. 

They respected marriage, and considered it necessary; 
but they regarded everything that tied them to the world, 
or induced any thought concerning the body, as an ob- 
struction in the pursuit of philosophy. Therefore, when 
they consecrated themselves to meditation on divine things, 
they lived unmarried ; so that the term philosopher and 
ascetic came to be synonomous. 

In addition to inward purification of the soul by know- 
ledge of God, and a life in harmony with his laws, they 
also believed in outward means of cleansing, taught by the 
gods, whereby men could obtain a sanctifying power from 
the Supreme, to preserve both body and soul. Their mean- 
ing with regard to these external ceremonies is veiled ; but 
there is little doubt that they referred, in part, to the ab- 
lutions preparatory to being initiated into the Eleusinian 
Mysteries. They never based their theories on any written 
revelation ; believing that divine truth could be perceived 
by human reason in exalted states of perception. 

In common with others of their age, they believed that 
enchanters, by aid of Evil Spirits, could command the 
forces of nature, and had power over men who had not 
raised their souls above external things; but that their 
spells were powerless over those who were in close com- 
munion with the Deity. They did not deny the miracles 
of Christ and his followers ; because miracles were easily 
and universally admitted by all classes ; but in comparison 
with them, they brought forward the wonders wrought by 
Pythagoras and Apollonius, whose power was received 
from the gods. Some, who distrusted all such phenomena, 
ascribed the miracles of both Apollonius and Christ to 
magical arts, ingenious tricks, and the blind faith of the 
multitude. Others acknowledged Jesus as one of the great 


teachers sent to instruct mankind, and only objected to his 
being regarded as God. 

The universal tendency to invest great teachers of man- 
kind with supernatural glory was manifested by the Plato- 
nists, and doubtless increased by their competition with the 
claims of Christianity. Jamblichus declares that Pythagoras 
was the son of Jupiter, by an earthly mother ; that a Del- 
phian priest predicted his birth and character; that his early 
gravity, temperance, and wisdom, were so astonishing as to 
command reverence even from gray hairs, and lead many to 
assert that he was the son of a God. It was also said that 
Plato was the son of Apollo, who endowed him with a 
portion of his own celestial intelligence. Spurious maxims 
of Pythagoras and Zoroaster, and Golden Yerses of Orpheus, 
were in circulation, with a view to increase their reputation 
for wisdom and piety. 

The philosophers, in general, disliked the Gnostics, not 
only because they were a modification of Christianity, but 
because it appeared to them that they perverted and de- 
graded the Platonic ideas, departed from the dignity of 
Grecian culture, and ran into fanatical extremes. Against 
both them and other Christians, they brought the charge of 
representing each human being of too much consequence in 
the plan of the universe. It was particularly at variance 
with their ideas, that the ignorant and the sinful should be 
taught a process by which they could be at once introduced 
from this life into the presence of God and Angels. They 
constituted the religious respectabilities of their day. They 
were advocates of the established and the venerable; to 
whom Christianity, taught as it was by the common people, 
seemed a mean fanaticism, " a barbarous boldness," " dan- 
gerous to the Eoman state." Their doctrines were elevated, 
and their standard of morality was high ; but their teaching 
was intellectual and philosophic, adapted only to educated 
minds. Nevertheless, their agency was an important one in 
the great change that was going on in the world. They con- 
tinued the noble work which Socrates and Plato had begun 
centuries before. They kindled aspirations they were un- 


able to satisfy, and were thus the means of bringing into the 
Christian church many excellent and educated men, whose 
influence served to counteract the exclusiveness, and con- 
tempt of general culture, which Christianity derived from 
its Jewish origin. At the same time, Platonists, in their 
turn, acquired an increased degree of moral elevation and 
refinement, from the example of Christians, and the com- 
petition excited by rivalship. As usual, neither party per- 
ceived the obligations it owed to the other ; but God, as 
ever, was overruling all for good. 

G-nostics were the most troublesome to the church of all 
who professed to believe in Christ, and Platonists were the 
most formidable of all who denied him. If Christians ridi- 
culed the stories which poets told concerning their gods, 
they covered them with a veil of allegorical significance. If 
it was urged that the literal sense of such stories must be in- 
jurious to young minds, inasmuch as it taught drunkenness, 
revenge, falsehood, murder, licentiousness, and treachery, by 
example of the deities, philosophers retorted by reminding 
Christians that their God was represented as a jealous God, 
greedy of his own glory, whose anger waxed hot, who con- 
sumed his enemies, changed his mind, and sent lying pro- 
phets to deceive. These continual attacks on the literal 
sense of the Jewish Scriptures, both by Gnostics and Pla- 
tonists, undoubtedly had great influence in producing the 
tendency to defend them by allegorical interpretation. Con- 
troversy with the Platonists was rendered still more difficult 
by the fact that, on many points, they apparently approached 
Christianity very nearly. Both taught One Supreme God ; 
both believed his Unity was mysteriously composed of Three 
Principles ; both asserted that his first-born Son was the Lo- 
gos, the Creator of the world. Under these resemblances, 
there existed very different ideas concerning the relation 
between God and the individual soul, and also concerning 
the mission of the Logos. With regard to the direct and 
constant agency of Spiritual Beings on the human mind, 
they were both agreed. It has been remarked that, " among 
all the objections made by philosophers to the doctrines of 


the Gospel, no exception was ever taken to the operation 
of the Holy Spirit on the human soul. The direct action 
of Divine Minds on the human was recognized as a familiar 
truth ; and it could not appear as a novelty, when all the 
highest minds in the moral world were imbued with the 
philosophy of Plato or Zeno." 

Minucius Felix, in his Apology for Christianity, intro- 
duces a dialogue between two Eomans, one converted to 
Christianity, and the other opposed to it. In the course of 
their discussion, the Christian remarks : "I have explained 
the opinions of almost all the philosophers, whose most 
illustrious glory it is that they have worshipped One Grod, 
though under different names ; so that one might suppose 
either that the Christians of the present day are philosophers, 
or that the philosophers of all days were already Christians." 


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